Philippines: One in 14 million

2 Dec 2013

27 Nov 2013, Philippines: Maribel with her dog, Lang-Lang. She was worried that her dog was washed away in the storm surge following Typhoon Haiyan. Credit: OCHA/Eva Modvig
Many of the 14 million people affected by Typhoon Haiyan face an uncertain future, unsure of where they will be living or how they will feed their families in the coming months.

Typhoon Haiyan affected an estimated 14 million people, leaving many of them without family members, homes and jobs. Over the coming months, OCHA will be following some of the people affected by the disaster: the challenges they face; their frustrations; and their triumphs as they begin to rebuild their lives.

Maribel is a shy but smiley 16-year-old girl. For the past three weeks she has been living in Tacloban’s conference centre - a building known locally as the Astrodome.

Before the storm, Maribel lived with her aunt and cousins in barangay (neighbourhood) 61 on Tacloban’s waterfront. Their home was destroyed when Haiyan’s storm surge literally washed their barangay away.

Her family survived the storm because they evacuated themselves following a warning from the local authorities. Her father works as a policeman in Manila. She is relieved that he is safe, she says, but she misses him a lot.

Uncertain Future

Maribel, her aunt, her cousins and her neighbor and friend Carrie now live in a washed-out shop, built into the Astrodome’s exterior.

The family is eager to get out of the evacuation centre. Life in the camp is difficult; living quarters are cramped and there is not much privacy. But they don’t know how long they will be allowed to stay here and what alternative accommodation may be available to them, and when.

They have been told that relief supplies will end in December.  One thing they do know is that they won’t be able to return to Barangay 61: it’s no longer safe for habitation.

Coping Amid Chaos

Despite this, the family has made every effort to make their temporary dwelling as comfortable as possible with possessions they managed to salvage from their home; even decorating their humble space with Christmas decorations. Her aunt has re-opened her store selling food including barbecued sausages.

In the first days after the storm, the family members were in shock. They grieved for their lost home, and they mourned their dogs – Putot and Lang-Lang. But one day last week, out of nowhere, the dogs turned up at the Astrodome. It was a small mercy for a young girl and a family that has been through so much.

An estimated 4.1 million people were displaced by Typhoon Haiyan. Of these, approximately 204,000 are still are living in over 1,000 evacuation centres. Many of these people, like Maribel and her family, were living on land that is no longer safe for habitation. 

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