Typhoon Haiyan: The Philippines the world once knew and loved are beginning to reappear

 

So here I am in darkest Tacloban, having taken a slow drive and a walk through its streets. The damage is truly astonishing. Quite how any population can recover from something so big, so devastating, I have no idea.

There are Marine Police boats lifted into the centre of main highway, ships tilted dangerously on the shore. There are bodies still rotting at various points and dogs crazy with hunger, scavenging for anything they can find. There are young boys, old men, and women too, begging for a gift from this passing stranger. Tacloban is not a place you would wish your worst enemy to be.

Yet while I am surrounded by evidence of nature's cruelty to mankind, I am also surrounded by a most impressive attempt at reconstruction. Streets that were blocked only three days ago have now been cleared. Operating theatres in one of the city's main hospitals are scheduled to start work again within the next few days. The theatre staff have been sweeping, mopping and cleaning within an inch of their lives. The Philippines the world once knew and loved are already beginning to reappear.

One significant issue is affecting our theatre activity at the moment. There is a significant lack of disposable items. We have undertaken so much surgery that there is almost nothing left.  We are improvising as best we can - we have recycled the paper wrappers for gloves and have turned those into drapes, as drapes are lacking.  We no longer scrub our hands as far back as the elbows as there are no towels available to dry our hands and arms. Consequently we wash our hands thoroughly, finish off by washing them in spirit and then wave our hands about in the air for two to three minutes until they are dry.

There was, however, an especially challenging case today. Our Theatre Sister, Geraldine, an Irish girl of some repute, had stubbed her toe on a rock that was securing her tent from the high winds and rain. The thing had bled and the toenail had started to lift.  It was not going to re-attach, that much was clear, so the nail had to come off.  I could see Geraldine hesitating as to what she should do but in the end she plucked up courage. A surgeon was selected, the patient was anaesthetised - local anaesthetic of course - and the entire theatre team stood round with cameras. 

Poor girl, that must have been the most photographed toe in history, but the nail came off with ease. Geraldine, being the tough individual she is, kept away from work for precisely one hour. After that she was back at the operating table as if nothing at all had happened, a motivated aid worker if ever there was one. 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

    £40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

    Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

    £21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past