Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was an exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, on November 08, 2013. It was the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,201 people in that country alone and injured 66,000 others. Haiyan is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall, and unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed. As of January 2014, bodies are still being uncovered.

WorldHarvest worked with local organizations to form a team of volunteers to distribute hundreds of pounds of medical aid and food relief to the victims. On December 3rd and 4th, the team journeyed to the disaster-stricken area and distributed food to 700 families in Tacloban, Samar, and Ormoc.

A journal entry from one of our representatives on the field:

 “The route we took was from GenSan to Cebu, to Sogod, to Tacloban, to Ormoc, to Cebu. We purchased goods in Sogod, a municipality six hours from Tacloban, since Sogod has the most resources compared to other municipalities around Tacloban. We hired a professional truck driver from Sogod and started our journey to Tacloban.

The team was able to assess the disaster-stricken areas and we saw that the damages from typhoon Haiyan was incredibly vast. Almost all of the nearby towns were affected. Take for example, Mayorga, Dulag, Talosa were all torn and damaged by the typhoon. Some children and adults were begging and asking for food on the side of the road. As we saw them, we were moved with compassion, and we handed our goods to them while remaining safely in the slowly moving truck. Our team felt that it would be unsafe to stop. We didn’t want to compromise the rest of our mission.

We arrived at Tacloban in the evening of December 3rd. We coordinated with our local contacts to get to a place where we can prepare the relief goods. We started packing at 9pm and finished at 3am. We released the goods at 8am with the help of the organization, LGU. The Barangay chairwoman, Evelyn Magalona, helped us immensely. About 700 people received help from our medical aid and food distribution that day. As we released the goods, we also performed medical checkups. Not only did we release goods for Tacloban, we were also able to extend our help to the people in Samar and Ormoc.

The city proper was in chaos and mountains of garbage piled on the road. To add insult to injury, there was also an inflation of prices. There was a foul stench that was very prominent among the damaged areas because the unrecoverable bodies were beginning to rot.”

Overall, the 700 recipients were incredibly thankful for and happy to receive our help during this trip. Despite the morbid, foul stench the team encountered on the trip, they felt it was a rewarding and meaningful experience getting to serve the victims of this typhoon.