In Philippines, battered town gets busy rebuilding
By TODD PITMAN
The Associated Press | November 16,2013
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 photo, Terrence Valen, president of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, right, talks on the phone next to Joey Elacion as they sit behind bottles of water donated by Elacion for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, at the Filipino Community Center in San Francisco. Philippine overseas workers, cut off from home after a super-typhoon, which struck the Philippine islands Nov. 8, killed more than 2,000 people, are coming together to pray, swap information and launch aid drives. Valen said they are concentrating on monetary donations for the victims.
GUIUAN, Philippines — The knock of hammer on nail, the buzz of chain saws, the swish of brooms clearing up debris from wrecked homes and yards: The sound of people putting their lives back together rings out across this devastated town.
A week after the typhoon struck the Philippines, there is immense need along this coast, much of it untouched by an aid effort that is struggling against clogged airports, blocked roads and a lack of manpower.
But amid the desperation, a spirit of resilience was clearly evident Friday as the residents of Guiuan (GEE-one) and other battered towns started rebuilding their lives and those of their neighbors — with or without help from their government or a foreign aid groups.
At 6 a.m., Dionesio de la Cruz was hammering together a bed, using scavenged rusty nails. He has already built a temporary shelter out of the remains of his house.
“We’re on our own, so we have to do this on our own,” the 40-year-old said as his wife and mother slept on a nearby table. “We’re not expecting anybody to come and help us.”
The death toll, meanwhile, was raised Friday by disaster authorities to 3,621, up from the previous figure of 2,360. Some officials have projected that the eventual toll will top 10,000, after the missing are declared dead and remote regions are reached.
Authorities estimate some 600,000 people have been displaced by Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the islands of Samar and Leyte hardest. Most of those are likely to be homeless. Along with food, water and medicine, aid groups will prioritize the distribution of tools, nails and other equipment to allow people like de la Cruz to make better shelters while more permanent solutions are considered.
In signs that relief efforts were picking up, U.S. Navy helicopters were flying sorties from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington off the coast, dropping water and food to isolated communities.
The government — perhaps inevitably — has come under some criticism for its inability to get supplies out quicker.