Philippines typhoon recovery: line after line in hard-hit Tacloban

Tacloban residents line up as they wait to see a doctor at a makeshift clinic in the city decimated by Typhoon Haiyan, Nov. 15, 2013. CBS

(CBS News) TACLOBAN, Philippines - Relief is making its way to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in some parts of the Philippines faster than others. The USS George Washington aircraft carrier arrived Thursday just off the nation’s shores filled with supplies and, most importantly, 21 helicopters to help carry aid to people who need it. 

A week after Haiyan tore through, Tacloban has become a city of lines. Residents wait for the simple things. People lined up for five hours to charge their cell phones. But there are also lines for much more significant commodities.

At a makeshift medical clinic, Dr. Gary Larosa told us the patients lined up even before medical staff had arrived. He said when they first arrived on Monday, they were treating predominantly cuts and scrapes, “but during the second and third day, diarrhea and upper respiratory” issues became more prevalent.

Typhoon Haiyan recovery: How you can help

“The water supply now is contaminated and I think there is no potable water flowing,” he said. That helped to explain the long line -- all the way down the street -- of people waiting to reach a Philippine government truck that was dispensing filtered water. 

"I've been here for like three hours, and we're thankful for this,” Jessica Alvincula told CBS News from her spot in the line. “At least we have water to drink and it's safe." Alvincula told us she'd prioritize the drinking water she got for her kids.

"It's very dangerous because, at some point, people will really get sick with diarrhea,” she said, adding that many were susceptible to illness as they were hungry and left completely exhausted “from the stress."

There were some signs of improvement in hard-hit Tacloban, however, including more heavy equipment on the streets clearing debris.

For the first time in a week, a gas station in Tacloban reopened. It was operating under heavy security, yielding, predictably, another long line. Then there were the lines to leave the disaster zone, by ship or by air. Many aren’t interested in waiting around to see how long recovery will take.  

“There is no water, no light, no electricity. Everything, no food,” lamented another storm survivor. “I have a lot of money to buy, but no more food to buy.”

Tacloban's city government remains virtually paralyzed, with only about 70 workers on duty compared to the normal 2,500. Many were killed, injured, or lost everything in the storm themselves.


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