A Week After Haiyan

A week after Haiyan and here I am, waking up four hours earlier than usual just to mourn…

Yes, I am mourning. For the first time in a week, I wept.

I wept for both survivors and victims.

I wept for the friends and family of the victims.

Recalling that day of November 8, 2013, I would say we were shaken. But unbent. Here in Metro Cebu, we were spared from the wrath of  Typhoon Yolanda.

And yet, a couple of days after it, the dreaded news came in – casualty counts, lost relatives, zero communication and power. More news came in and it’s as terrible as the last – looting, chaos, anarchy. The estimated casualty: 10,000. Though yesterday, it was brought down to around 4,000.

We had major preparations for Typhoon Haiyan here in our place. I had the hubby stack some supplies we might need. I had a bug out bag prepared since after the wake of Typhoon Sendong in Iligan. I already improved it a bit with supplies.

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In my head, I thought it was enough. I packed us clothes, flashlights, first aid kit, emergency blankets, whistle, data, documents. I was thinking that’s already enough. Looking at it now, I am thinking – If the typhoon’s eyewall struck us as hard as in Tacloban, would we have survived? I fear that the answer is a big NO.

During the storm, we were up and about manning the social media presence of the second largest electric company in the PH. We were running the program despite the power failure, limited battery, and fear for our own lives. The winds were howling. Battery was draining. And yet our social media team had to trod on and assure the people that everything is going to be alright. A blackout was announced after and it increased the tension and fear from the customers. We had to be brave and assure them it will be back soon.

A few hours after the storm left Mactan, power did not come back yet. At 4PM, we were already packed and ready to transfer to the office where they had power so we could continue our social media assistance. They were to pick us up in a meeting place near our home.

Me, hubby, and the little boy all got packed and ready. When we went outside, we realized our area was slightly flooded so we had to waddle along flooded pathways to reach the meeting place. We had to go out early as the daylight is fading away. There was still no power in our area but luckily, the meeting place had generator and one sole lightbulb to keep us company. We waited.

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We were finally picked up and began our journey from Mactan to Mandue. There we saw how eerily quiet everything was. It was a citywide blackout in our area. When we reached the old Mactan bridge, the whole city of Cebu was also in a blackout. We passed by a pole that was being fixed by linemen. They were working fast! Deployment within 2 hours? I was amazed.

 

We setup and got ready to man the channels when we arrived. But what wasn’t accounted for was the lack of internet connection in the office. We had to improvise using mobile data and local connection. Still, we ended up with very minimal to zero work done. I was glad to have our neighbor message us to say that we already had power in the area. By then, we had our journey home and resumed operations from our home office.

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The day after Yolanda, I was looking around to see the damages done by the Typhoon. Aside from the fallen trees and shrubs, there was no major damage in our place. In fact, we only had lots of fallen leaves in our front gate. I would say we lucky.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-yv-wqeoiRgM/Un7hsPQ0ZXI/AAAAAAABvJQ/heC6IpmohaI/s144-c-o/20131109_132538.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/100610788162423917775/20131114?authkey=wJoVbhFQhug#5944436708303201650″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”20131109_132538.jpg” ]

Our major concern now is that one of our team mates could not be reached. We tried to contact her phone but it seems to be off. Her social media profiles do not have updates. Her friends are also asking where she is. Someone even called me thinking I was her. Until now, a week after the storm, we still have no word about her and her family.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-DuYR0009B9Y/Un9RetV8pWI/AAAAAAABvOk/g1rqTFHo9vQ/s144-c-o/20131110_165306.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/100610788162423917775/20131114?authkey=wJoVbhFQhug#5944559621161919842″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”20131110_165306.jpg” ]

The kids went outside and played. It felt like we had reset button in our lives. We saw a rainbow and thanked Mother Nature. Back to normal as they might say. But in reality, it wasn’t the same for everyone. There were a lot of displaced families now needed attention, needing helping, and looking for a new home.

It was also just in time that the UN Climate Talks is happening in Warsaw. Learned that Sir Yeb Sano, Climate Change Commissioner, was there to negotiate for climate change fund and help from developed nations. Everyone was teary eyed after his speech. He commenced his fasting as protest until there’s a resolution. When I read the transcript of his talk, I could help but grab this quote from him. It hit me hard. I believe we don’t deserve to be suffering more because of climate change. We need to be able to adapt and get ready for more major storms like these. We have to stop this madness.

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Donations from humanitarian groups and even from other countries have started pouring in. The world is criticising the government’s response. Refugees are coming in. People are suffering. I am sincerely hoping this will all be over soon.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-h0BuoRY9LIY/UoSKR20GKqI/AAAAAAABvaM/dGol2mOqKUM/s144-c-o/20131114_160610.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/100610788162423917775/20131114?authkey=wJoVbhFQhug#5946029447412329122″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”20131114_160610.jpg” ]

On my end, we are starting up an Adopt-to-Adapt program to help some families and survivors transition and cope with the stress of their situation. The program needs multisectoral help but we’ll see how much we can do for the meantime.

Thoughts and love to the survivors, to our country.

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