12 Nov 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: new life amid the devastation

We like to dole out warnings on the telly about the upcoming content – so let us extend that to our online efforts this time.

Please be aware that what follows is an area which is by no means the worst affected island in the path of the typhoon.

It has been some entry into the world for Inisto Barlas, born the day before the typhoon hit – typhoon Yolanda, as they call her here.


He sleeps, swaddled despite the heat of a tropical night, by candlelight. He is not at home. Home is a pile of splintered beams and smashed household effects.

Homeless on day two of his life, mum Annalisa and the rest of the family now live with three other large families in what was the classroom of the nearby primary school.

Outside, Rose has cooked sardines, with an egg in the sauce, and donated rice, over a fire outside.

Now she sits and says: “We need everything. All that you can imagine –  food, water, clothing, a house, medicine, just everything.”

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Another mum in the room sit quietly, nursing her baby, her face and body pockmarked by severe chickenpox. Diarrhoea is rife and spreading. Running water and functioning toilets – history.


They are more fortunate than many, many to the east on islands hit first by the typhoon.
And more fortunate than villages inland in this province.

Up in the interior, lush green hills pass beneath the wide open doors of our Huey helicopter. It’s not food, but water: a more immediate need.

These villages are desperately short of water. The 206th Tactical Helicopter Squadron of the Philippine Airforce is now the village water supply.

Such is the terrain, they cannot land the Huey. It takes three attempts in the swirling mountain winds to hover, three feet above ground, then hurl, kick, manhandle the splitting boxes of bottled water on to the grass and wind-ripped palm branches across the ground.

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