By Heidi Anicete, Save the Children, the Philippines
When typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on 8 November I was in Iloilo City, in the western part of the country.
After hours of relentless rain, power failures and pounding winds the storm finally subsided after dark, leaving a trail of destruction, torn off canopies and fallen trees.
The journey to Concepcion
We soon learned that Iloilo was one of the worst-affected provinces and the next morning decided to head for the northern municipality of Concepcion – reportedly the fifth area where Haiyan made landfall – to conduct an emergency assessment.
Roadblocks caused by severe flooding, fallen trees and toppled electrical posts meant the three-hour journey took twice that and as we approached Concepcion the destruction became increasingly apparent around us.
First we saw houses without roofs, then a few kilometres further on a whole village reduced to piles of scrap wood.
In another area families were living in makeshift tents along the side of the road, just a few metres from where their homes used to stand.
A community turned to rubble
In Concepcion, we found little but debris and displaced inhabitants. Every house made of lightweight materials, such as wood, bamboo or nipa (palm) had been destroyed, forcing hundreds of families to crowd into the local public school for shelter.
At the local health centre, a long line of people waited patiently for medical attention but supplies were already running low: the doctor told us there was no way to meet everyone’s needs.
When we spoke to the local authorities, they warned us that food and water were also running out and with communication lines down and access to the area difficult, they had no idea when they would be able to get more.
Eleven remote islands still isolated
In Concepcion alone, 25 barangays (villages) were directly affected by the storm but unfortunately, this is not unusual for this area: most of the communities in the northern part of Iloilo Province that were battered by Typhoon Haiyan. At the time of our visit, 11 remote islands were still isolated and the extent of the damage there yet to be confirmed.
The devastation has left children and their families in dire need of immediate assistance, including all sorts of essential items, including hygiene kits, blankets, cooking pots and soap. Save the Children is on the ground in the Philippines, delivering aid as fast as we can to those who need it most.