November 14, 2013
The Destructive Power of Haiyan
The situation in Taclobon remains dire. There is little order, with few working vehicles and debris everywhere, seriously impairing the movement of goods. Our response team members walked for three hours from the airport to the stadium where a command post has been set up, bringing dog and cat food and water with them. They were also able to communicate with local and federal officials, agencies and other NGOs, to obtain further information on the unfolding humanitarian response.
People with whom our team members spoke reported that the storm surge inundated Taclobon with seawater to a height of 10 feet, covering even the airport control tower. Dogs who survived managed to swim and stay afloat; unfortunately, those who were tethered or caged perished.
Conditions are bad and there is considerable civil unrest; the armed forces have mobilized and a curfew is in place. Given security concerns, HSI responders are setting up their base in Cebu and will return to Tacloban when safety permits to help the animals abandoned when people evacuated.
In the meantime, our Asia Director, Rahul Seghal, has formed a second team of six, mostly veterinarians, to travel to the island of Bantayan. This island is known for its numerous factory farms, and is likely to present another bad situation.
On a positive note, HSI responders helped a pregnant Chihuahua named Chynna whose family was boarding a plane and not allowed to take her with them. Our lead vet, Dr. Rey del Napoles, offered to keep her safe until they could be reunited—a small gesture of kindness in the midst of a terrible tragedy. Support our efforts to help animals affected by disaster.