Houses, Everything, Gone.

Houses, Everything, Gone.

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Sandra Bulling

“I’m just boarding the plane to Cebu now, one of the areas hit by the typhoon. From there, we’ll take a boat to Leyte, and then try to get to Southern Leyte by car. We don’t know how the roads are. We don’t even know if the car will be able to get through. Nothing is clear at this point.

“Here at the airport, there are many aid agencies all desperately trying to get to the area to help. The areas affected are all islands, so they’re all difficult to reach even in normal times. In Tacloban, the city that was horribly hit by the typhoon, the airport is reported closed for at least another week, so there are no direct flights.

“Today in the emergency coordination meeting in Manila we heard there might be another storm coming. We don’t know yet where and when it will hit, but there is another tropical depression building. So at the same time as launching a massive emergency response, the government and aid agencies have to prepare to help people survive another storm. If another big storm comes, I fear it will knock the legs out from under these communities.

“There is a lot of speculation about the death toll, and everyone trying to figure out how many people have died. But we can’t just measure the disaster by the number of dead people – entire communities have been wiped out. Houses, everything, gone. The government did a good job evacuating more than 800,000 people, which is why we don’t have an even bigger death toll. That’s important.”

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A man stands atop debris as residents salvage belongings from the ruins of their houses after Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines November 10, 2013. Photo: REUTERS/Erik De Castro, courtesy