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Eyewitness: aftermath of the storm

Christian Aid’s Jessica Dator-Bercilla is carrying out a rapid assessment in Iloilo in the southeast of Panay Island, an area hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan.

She has met people who have survived three storm surges, as waves and wind destroyed everything around them.

Houses blown apart 

As we approached northern Iliolo, we saw people in the streets, trying to escape floodwaters that have claimed their homes.

Trees and electricity poles blocked roads, making it hard to travel, and streets were strewn with furniture and clothes.

We came upon several rows of houses, blown apart by the gusts. In one town, almost every home has been destroyed. 

A woman among destroyed homes

Imelda Betita, one of the women I met, stands among the destruction.

Total devastation

Heading for villages on the coast we saw utter devastation; schools, hospitals, government offices, businesses – nothing was spared.

Everywhere had the same scale of destruction. I couldn’t help but wonder where people will shelter as no public buildings remain. 

Local government officials we met desperately packaged up relief items, hoping that other agencies will send more supplies.

What they really need is food for people in the coastal villages that have been wiped out by the storm surges.

  • I have children living in those islands and I have not heard from them. I am very, very worried.'

Dead bodies lay unclaimed

Close by, two dead bodies lay unclaimed. At the ports, the stench of unclaimed corpses assaulted our nostrils. People do not know what to do about the bodies.

The local government has been unable to collect them. They have neither lime to put on them nor body bags to put them into. 

Sitting on the post of a concrete building – what was left after the walls and roof had been swept away - I met an elderly women looking out to sea, towards the islands further out.

She told me: ‘I have children living in those islands and I have not heard from them. I am very, very worried.’ Her sister, who had not been well, died in the storm.

Lack of information

Lack of information is one of the biggest problems for the survivors.

Another woman I met, Imelda Betita, begged me to tell radio stations in the city of their survival so that their family members will know they are okay.

I could not bring myself to tell them that the aerial survey shared with us by the government a day before showed massive destruction of the small islands. I could not add to their distress and grief. 

Please help

Please help our partners to get food and provide shelter to these people whose lives have been torn apart by donating to the Philippines Typhoon Appeal.


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