“We’re bringing 500 tarpaulins sent by Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand to Tacloban,” said Mark Mitchell, coordinator of the international Caritas emergency team responding to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
The Australian Air Force took the Caritas cargo on a C-130 Hercules from Cebu, the main hub of relief efforts.“We saw the ceaseless activity of international aid and the challenges that come with it,” he said.
On the military airbase of Cebu, the action is ceaseless. Military cargo planes from the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan take materials to the areas hit by the storm and return with survivors fleeing from the devastated cities.
The Caritas team traveled with their cargo to Tacloban, one the worst hit cities. “The damage to Tacloban is incredible,” said Mark Mitchell. “The tarps that we’re bringing are greatly needed by survivors for temporary shelter.”
At the airport in Tacloban, Fr Rick from Palo, a town further south down the coast, has come with a truck to get the tarps. They will be distributed in the next few days. They are among many thousands of tarpaulins and other items en route to the affected areas for the construction of emergency shelters.
In the airport, there is a long line of survivors waiting to be evacuated. Unlike in other areas we’ve visited, the children we meet waiting to board the Herucules don’t smile. Their faces are marked instead by fatigue and trauma.
The survivors of the typhoon are people who the need the basic necessities that planes carry. But we also know that the internal wounds of the victims, especially among the children, will need counseling to recover.