Typhoon Haiyan eyewitness: Water still swirls in streets carpeted with twisted metal and mangled cars

 

No village or town along the road from the port town of Ormoc in southern Leyte to the provincial capital of Tacloban was spared by Typhoon Haiyan.

In Ormoc, the market, the port terminal and the shops and houses along the waterline have been wrecked by the winds that lashed the area, crumpling roofs, toppling power lines and leaving thousands homeless. The owner of a local hotel – damaged but not destroyed – was kind enough to let our team of three take a room for the night before we headed to the northern city of Tacloban on Monday morning.

The hotel has become a lifeline for those whose homes were destroyed. Although there is no power, there is a fresh water spring – vital in this kind of crisis.

As our assessment team set off, dozens of people were preparing to walk the 110km journey, some in search of missing relatives, others looking for medical assistance or food.

On the way to Tacloban, the scenes of devastation intensified.

Thousands of coconut trees have been uprooted and catapulted across the land, or they have been snapped in two, like toothpicks. Although vehicles can now make it along the route, it is still strewn with debris. What is striking is that communities are already trying to clear up, using wreckage to put together makeshift shelters that might at least protect them from the rain.

As we approached Tacloban, we were met by several thousand people making their way out of the city – some barefoot and walking, others had managed to fit five people and the remains of their belongings on to the backs of scooters. Their destination was not clear, but what is clear is that huge numbers of people have been displaced.

Tacloban city itself is utterly destroyed. A police boat lies marooned on top of a heap of building debris close to the centre of the city where it was carried and dumped by the huge waves that swept through the area. Trees dangle from tangled phone and power lines. Flood water swirls in the streets, which are carpeted in twisted metal, mangled cars, piles of wood and household appliances.

One man I spoke to described the moment the storm surge swept through. He said three separate 3-metre waves pounded the area. When he heard the first, he picked up his mother and ran, carrying her, from the house. They both survived, but they have not been able to find out the fate of relatives living nearby.

The Philippine Red Cross is trying to register the missing and reunite survivors – a vital task that is only just beginning. They are working to find those people who are not living in formal evacuation centres but are instead bedding down in the shells of semi-destroyed buildings.

The organisation says there is an urgent need for medical supplies to help doctors cope with lacerations or broken bones, as well as diarrhoea caused by a lack of safe water.

Food and water relief is critical here. Aid agencies are working with the government to distribute supplies.

Though the international media has focused on Tacloban, it is not the only place to have been ravaged. As the Red Cross and other agencies continue to carry out assessments in the coming days and weeks, the true extent of the disaster will become clearer.

 Nichola Jones, 31, from Manchester is an IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross) delegate in the Philippines.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading and innovative con...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue