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Survivors Describe Ordeal Amid 20-foot Surge From Typhoon As Aid Arrives

an aerial view of buildings destroyed in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan on November 10, 2013 over the Leyte province, Philippines
An aerial view of buildings destroyed in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan on November 10, 2013 over the Leyte province, Philippines. (Ryan Lim/Malacanang Photo Bureau via Getty Images)

Survivors of the typhoon that may have killed 10,000 people in the Philippines are describing being swept away by a 20-foot storm surge.

 

 Residents pass by a damaged truck in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan  in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines
Residents pass by a damaged truck in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines (Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

A 19-year-old student in the hardest-hit city, Tacloban says he tried to ride out the storm in his home with his ailing father, but the storm surge carried the building away. Marvin Daga says they clung to each other while the house floated, but it eventually crumbled and they fell into the churning waters. He says his father slipped out of his grasp and sank — and that he’s not expecting to find him alive.

Larry Womack and his wife Bobbie, American missionaries from Tennessee, have lived in Tacloban for a long time. Womack says he chose to stay at their beachside home, only to find the storm surge engulfing it. He survived by climbing onto a beam in the roof that stayed attached to a wall. Womack says, “There were actual waves going over my head.”

Even people who fled to evacuation shelters found that they weren’t safe. A 21-year-old woman who was about to give birth was in an evacuation center that was devastated by the storm surge. She had to swim and cling to a post to survive — eventually reaching safety at the airport, where she gave birth to a baby girl. The baby, Bea Joy Sagales, appeared to be in good health. Her arrival drew applause from others in the airport, and military medics who helped in the delivery.

Amid gruesome typhoon scenes, aid trickles in

 The Tacloban City Convention Center is being used as an evacuation center in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan
The Tacloban City Convention Center is being used as an evacuation center in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (

Philippine soldiers are distributing food and water and the U.S. military has sent food, water, generators and a contingent of Marines to the city. It’s the first outside help in what will grow into a major international relief mission.

A U.S. Marine brigadier general who took a helicopter flight over the city says “every single building” was destroyed or severely damaged. Paul Kennedy spoke as supplies were unloaded from two Marine C-130 cargo planes.

Those who were caught in the storm are worried that the aid won’t arrive soon enough. Bobbie Womack, an American missionary from Tennessee who is a longtime Tacloban resident, says she’s afraid “it’s going to get dangerous in town” because of the slow pace of relief efforts. She says, “They need to bring in shiploads of food.”

The country’s president has declared a “state of national calamity,” allowing the central government to release emergency funds faster and impose price controls on staple goods.


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