In a nation that is frequently plagued by earthquakes, powerful typhoons and volcanic explosions, typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) appears to be the strongest and deadliest one on record. It hit the Philippines’ eastern seaboard on November 8 2013, barreling across central islands. The typhoon was sustaining winds up to 235 kilometers per hour, and gusting to 275 kilometers per hour. It had a storm surge of over 6 meters. Tacloban, the capital city of Leyte, was the location with the most damage. Most people died from drowning and collapsed buildings, according to a regional police Chief. Tacloban has a population of 200,000. In Leyte’s neighboring island of Samar, around 2,000 people are reported to be missing. Some of its towns are yet to be reached by rescuers. This can be a difficult job due to the lack of electricity, cell phone signals, and passable roads, making communication and delivery close to impossible. Four million people in total were affected by this super-typhoon.
Delivery trucks carrying relief goods have also started rolling into the city. These trucks have also headed into Ormoc in Eastern Samar, carrying fresh relief goods and increasing the transport capability of Task Force Yolanda. Besides the city’s existing flatbed trucks, a 22-vehicle convoy from “Bayanihan 2” is due to arrive soon. This convoy is also scheduled to bring relief goods and personnel. One truck per town in Leyte is provided for the distribution of relief goods. These relief goods include medicines, food, clean water, clothes, and hygienic products.
Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Mangundadatu has also brought in a convoy of 14 trucks carrying relief goods headed towards Guiuan, in Eastern Samar, but were delivered to Ormoc instead.
These trucks have been borrowed for a week, in order to augment the amount of delivery vehicles for the Ormoc hub of relief operations. Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman has admitted that the transfer of relief goods to Leyte and other towns has become quite a challenge.
Aside from relief good distribution, 24 trucks in Tacloban, plus 16 in Leyte and 4 more in Samar province have been deployed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DWPH) to clean up roads.
Dump trucks, payloaders, graders and other road-clearing equipment that belong to private contractors, have outnumbered the ones that were deployed by the government in areas that were destroyed by the typhoon. The DWPH has praised these private contractors for their immediate response to their call for help in the areas hit by the typhoon.
One of these contractors, Sunwest Construction, has sent in 10 dump trucks to Leyte two days after the typhoon’s onslaught. Ten more trucks were sent to distribute 5,000 relief good bags. Yakal Builders and Mac Builders, two more private contractors, both left their projects in Samar to clear the roads that lead to Guiuan.
In addition, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have deployed more helicopters, ships, and trucks for ongoing relief operations in the Visayas region. The AFP has mobilized these units, from locations as far as Northern Luzon. Eleven M35 trucks were deployed to Tacloban, all the way from the AFP’s headquarters in Taguig city.
The MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) has taken the responsibility of disposing debris that were created by the typhoon. The amount of debris can reach up to 4,000 truckloads. One hundred forty one truckloads of debris have been collected so far.
A huge amount of washed up dead bodies are still lying on the streets. Other cadavers have been transferred into body bags. These have been placed into trucks, and driven off to municipal buildings to be buried in mass graves.