Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines - Testimonial from CARE International's Sandra Bulling

Sandra Bulling, CARE International Emergency Communications Officer, is with CARE’s Emergency Team in the areas affected by the Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Nov. 11, 2013, 19:00 local time.

“We arrived by boat at the port in Ormoc City. As soon as we stepped onto the port, we were in the middle of a disaster zone. Everything was destroyed. Tin roofing sheets were hanging off trees like wet blankets.

“All the houses along the coast are completely flattened. Everything is destroyed. Further inland, about 80 percent of the houses are roofless. About five percent of the houses are completely collapsed – these are mainly wooden houses. It seems like everyone we’ve seen has a hammer or tools in their hands, trying to repair their houses and their roofs. People are picking up poles and pieces of wood from the street. There are long queues at hardware stores, pharmacies. We waited in line for two hours to get fuel. So far the roads are okay, but it’s taking a long time to get anywhere.

© REUTERS/Erik De Castro

“I talked to a shop owner whose shop was destroyed; he lost everything. He’s wondering how he’s going to feed his five children. I also met a little girl, who was trying to dry out her books. Her house was totally destroyed, but there she was, worried about her school books, because she wants to go to school. And it’s the only thing she has left.

“We just arrived in Jaro, a small town on the way to Tacloban. It’s dark now, so we can’t go any further. We’re staying in the police station tonight – not sure where we’ll sleep, maybe in the car, or outside. There’s an electricity pole that’s leaning dangerously over the police station, so everyone is trying to steer clear of that. Thank  you to the police for letting us use their toilets! Our plan is to go to Dulag, just south of Tacloban. Our driver just came from there, and says it’s very bad, and they need help.


“People are becoming quite desperate. Some officials just came and told us that there has been looting in the area, people trying to get rice for their families. People haven’t had food for three days, and they’re trying to feed their families. That’s why it’s so important to get food and emergency supplies in to these areas as soon as possible. In Ormoc, there was food; we could buy chicken and rice. But there were big queues at the food stalls and shops. We’re in an urban area now, and I don’t even want to think what it’s like in the rural areas. We’ll start moving again at first light. I don’t think anyone is going to get any sleep tonight.”

Sandra Bulling, CARE International Emergency Communications Officer  

Areas affected by the typhoon include Leyte and Cebu, where a large number of Lendwithcare entrepreneurs live and work. We are still uncertain of the extent of the damage and we are still waiting for further information from SEEDFINANCE, our partner in the Philippines, before taking any final decision regarding repayments.  However, it is very likely that a large number of lendwithcare entrepreneurs will have been affected, and neither CARE nor the microfinance organisations with whom we work, would demand repayment from individuals who have lost their livelihoods in this way.

In order to help with disaster relief efforts, you can donate to CARE International now, either via The Big Give (your donation will be doubled, for a limited time) or directly on CARE International's emergency appeal page.

Follow the latest news and updates on Twitter @lendwithcare or @careintuk or Facebook or

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