Mark-Kevin, is the oldest child in a family of eight. Due to his cerebral palsy, he was unable to reach the evacuation point by himself when typhoon Haiyan approached, and was carried by his neighbors. Like many of the town’s inhabitants, he is still shocked by the strength of the storm and the devastation it caused.
The town of Giporlos is situated on the southern coast of Eastern Samar, one of the areas most severely hit by typhoon Haiyan. At the city hall, nearly two weeks after the disaster, everyone is busy organizing the distributions of relief aid, mostly food. “The wind was so strong and it carried so much water, that it was impossible to see more than six feet away,” remembers one of the employees. “The seawater came 330 feet inland, carrying everything: fishing boats, vehicles, houses, home appliances... Corrugated iron sheets were flying everywhere. It looked like the end of the world was coming to us.”
In Giporlos, like in most of the neighboring municipalities, people were evacuated to the more resistant buildings. Mark-Kevin, like all his neighbors living in wooden houses, was evacuated to the city hall. “It was already raining very heavily and everybody was running. My neighbors carried me in their arms, and someone else carried my wheelchair.”
“But the wind was so strong that we didn’t even feel safe there. As the water rose, everybody went up to the third floor, and I had to be carried. Then the third floor started shaking from the wind and we went down to the second floor. We didn’t know if the building was going to resist and protect us. It was very scary.”
The house of Mark-Kevin’s family was damaged by the typhoon, but its structure resisted. “We already fixed the holes in the roof, and at least we were able to move back in,” his father explains. “The roof of the bathroom still needs to be replaced, together with a few other things, but we consider ourselves lucky, others have lost everything.”
But for Mark-Kevin and his family, other challenges remain, starting with accessing food and securing an income. “We sell fish to live, but since the typhoon, there is nothing to be sold, and nothing to buy,” the father adds. “We depend on the distributions of relief aid that we get every three days.”
It will take time before Mark-Kevin and his five brothers and sisters can resume their normal life. After being cut off from the world for several days, the delivery of relief aid could finally get through to them. Electricity and telecommunication should be restored in the coming weeks. But the psychological recovery, the infrastructure reconstruction, and the restoration of the social and economic networks will be a much longer process.
“We prepare for disasters like typhoons, and we feel like we did everything we could to protect ourselves,” the father says. “Still, this one was so strong that it took everything away. This is really hard to accept.”