The storm reduced large areas of Tacloban to nothing more than rubble and debris. On the city's outskirts there is an SOS Kinderdorf (childrens' village), which was also damaged. But just as Haiyan was hitting the city, the people in the SOS compound were able to get to safety in time and so averted any fatalities. After the storm had passed, the frightened children stayed with aid workers on the roofs of the houses for several hours. Director Oscar Garol describes the buildings as heavily damaged, but is relieved that only few people were injured in the Kinderdorf. Because the houses in the SOS compound had not collapsed during the storm, many people in the area who had lost everything headed for the compound in the hope of receiving aid there. Emily Torculas, director of a more remote Kinderdorf, spoke of a "Noah's Ark" in the midst of the devastation.
Disaster relief is reaching the Philippines, step by step
Food, water, clothing and medicines are now the most urgently needed supplies, and relief measures are now being organised. Relatively big shipments are being sent from the SOS location at Cebu, on the neighbouring island, where the infrastructure is fortunately still largely intact and the most important supplies are available. At the moment, 600 families and their relatives are receiving aid in Tacloban, and disaster relief is being expanded continually in order to reach even more affected families. Munich Re Foundation is financing part of the immediate relief measures to bring drinking water and urgently needed medicines to Tacloban.
Even as the disaster relief measures are being carried out, the first steps toward improving long-term risk management are being organised. These efforts will focus not only on the SOS Kinderdorf, but will also include plans to rebuild the houses in the neighbourhood. Disaster relief must culminate in improved risk prevention in the future. SOS Kinderdorf sites can fulfil this criterion because the organisation has already been active in this country for a long time. Here, achieving sustainability is the very first imperative.
In many areas of the Philippines, the people's situation remains desperate, and distributing relief supplies poses a major challenge. This makes implementing and supporting effective relief measures all the more important. If relief centres such as "Noah's Ark" are created throughout the disaster area, people there will once again be able to draw hope.
CB, 20 November 2013