Dispatches from an Upturned Place

Anecdotes galore before and after Super Typhoon Yolanda (1)

Super typhoon Yolanda brought out the best and the worst in men. Whether the monster was man-made–as some people aver–it was a HUGE laboratory with which to observe the effects of the most powerful cyclone in history on people and the environment.

o November 7, a day before Yolanda’s arrival, Eufemia Magcuro decided to wait it out at his son Nolan’s house near the Coke plant at Marasbaras, Tacloban City. All the while, she was thinking that Tacloban would be safer than Guinarona when it comes to a Category 5 typhoon. When Yolanda struck in the morning of November 8, they were huddled inside the house as the fierce winds roared and made deafening noises. Then one by one the house supports began to give way and water–deep, dark, dirty and foreboding–rushed inside up to the second floor. Then a loud bang–a huge boat slammed into the roof and parked itself right there on top. Scampering is a kind word to describe how they managed to survive Yolanda.

o Aid helicopters from the U.S. army are now a common fixture in GUINARONA’s skies. They would hover above, singly or in tandem, and the kids would chase after them, thinking that they would make relief drops. Nah, they were going elsewhere to the disappointment of the kid-chasers.

o One helicopter dropped a huge tarpaulin over Tabon-tabon, Leyte, the purpose of which was for the people to spread it for the air drops. What they did instead was to tear it in bits and pieces, with everyone helping himself to a piece. Their rationale was that they needed it to roof themselves.

o An aid helicopter hovered over a Burauen barrio. The chopper’s crew saw many men brandishing machetes, aside from the unarmed throngs waiting for relief. Thinking that the machete men were hostile, the crew just decided to make the drop and not land.

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