News / Asia

Typhoon-Stricken Central Philippines in 'Early Recovery' Phase

Typhoon survivors and volunteers begin a massive clean up in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province in central Philippines, Nov. 25, 2013.
Typhoon survivors and volunteers begin a massive clean up in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province in central Philippines, Nov. 25, 2013.
Simone Orendain
As Philippines authorities continue to transition to the needs of long-term recovery of typhoon devastated areas, authorities are building temporary housing, expanding "cash for work" and "food for work" programs to clear debris, and looking at long-term measures like planting mangroves along vulnerable coastlines.

Officials say the worst-hit provinces of Leyte and Samar are showing signs of recovery. They note that banks are reopening, small markets are in business and in some places more than three quarters of the debris that clogged the streets has been removed. This has opened up roads to transportation services.

But Super Typhoon Haiyan obliterated and destroyed more than a million houses.

Presidential spokesman Sonny Coloma said providing housing is a priority.

“The transfer of affected families from tents and evacuation centers to temporary bunkhouses signals the transition from relief to early recovery and reconstruction,” Coloma said.

The Office of Civil Defense says 116 “bunkhouses” are in place in the hardest hit city of Tacloban in Leyte and five other nearby municipalities. These structures accommodate 24 families of five. And each building has a central kitchen and common restrooms with a medical facility on one end.

The government and several humanitarian agencies have implemented “cash for work” programs, which pay displaced residents a day rate to clear debris. Survivors are also working for food.

Civil Defense Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario said provincial governments are planning to invest in agriculture to help displaced residents become less dependent on relief operations. He said food aid will continue for as long as it is needed, adding that this will “interlock” with early recovery and early rehabilitation work.

“Our intention is to attain normalcy as early as possible. We could not say that it is 100 percent normal,” del Rosario said.

Philippine officials estimate the cost of rebuilding at $5.8 billion.

  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors wait for their evacuation flights at the airport in Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013.
  • A typhoon survivor sits beside the body bag containing his child in Tacloban, central Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
  • A Philippine Air Force crew looks out from his helicopter as Typhoon Haiyan-ravaged city of Tacloban is seen in the background, during a flight to deliver relief goods, Nov. 19, 2013.
  • The brakelight of a delivery truck lights up a boy's face as survivors struggle to be the first in line during the distribution of relief goods in typhoon-hit Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013.
  • Firemen unload Typhoon Haiyan victims in body bags from a truck on the roadside until forensic experts can register and bury them in a mass grave outside of Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 19, 2013.
  • A Typhoon Haiyan survivor carries a bag of his recovered belongings in the ruins of his rural neighborhood on the outskirts of Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013.
  • A man uses a shovel to clean up mud inside St. Joseph Parish church, which was badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013.
  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors walk along a road in the destroyed port in the town of Guiuan, Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013.
  • A young boy, a survivor of Typhoon Haiyan covers his ears as military C-130 aircraft land at the airport in Tacloban, central Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013.
  • Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan shade themselves from the rising sun after spending the night on the tarmac in the airport in Tacloban, where they wait to be evacuated, Nov. 15, 2013.
  • Toppled coconut trees dot a mountain in an area devastated by typhoon Haiyan in Leyte province, central Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013.

According to the Civil Defense office, 3.4 million people remain displaced more than two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan struck. The United Nations says it affected more than 13 million people.

The U.N. says not everyone has access to markets to replenish food stocks in the long-term. The agency also says supplies of emergency shelter provisions are running low and groups that had provided them initially are close to exhausting their funding to buy more.

Del Rosario said the government is requiring a 40 meter easement from the Tacloban coastline where squatters made their homes. The typhoon churned up a massive storm surge along the coast that killed scores of people in its wake.

“It will be planted with mangroves because per a study conducted, mangroves can decrease by 70 percent, [the] strength [of a] storm surge,” he explained.

Del Rosario said, while the government expects to see some of the foreign militaries that initially responded start to leave after 15-day relief stints, others continue to arrive. He said these later arrivals are focusing on medical relief and engineering help for rebuilding.

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