Fieldset
Philippines: frustration, hope, and noodle soup

On Thursday the first MSF advance team finally reached Tacloban. The three preceding days spent waiting in Cebu were very frustrating. Each morning dawned with a new hope to reach the most typhoon-affected cities, plans that evaporated at the very last minute.

On Thursday the first MSF advance team finally reached Tacloban. The three preceding days spent waiting in Cebu were very frustrating. Each morning dawned with a new hope to reach the most typhoon-affected cities, plans that evaporated at the very last minute. On Monday, Tacloban airport had not been sufficiently cleared of debris. On Tuesday, appalling weather kept us grounded. On Wednesday, the Philippine army was given priority as it was urgent to re-establish order in town.

At last, on Thursday, a helicopter transported Audrey, the emergency coordinator, Damien and Adrien, the two logisticians, and Morpheus and Joey, our two Philippines doctors. They landed in Palo, little town located few kilometres south of Tacloban. Against all odds, commercial flights resumed regular routes from Cebu. I managed to reach Tacloban airport where Damien picked me up after six hours spent with a crowd of survivors who were waiting to be evacuated from the tons of debris.

Night was about to fall so we quickly went to the city centre to find a place to sleep. Humanitarian workers and journalists had gathered in a sport centre requisitioned by the army. An Australian reporter pointed us to a hotel where we could stay. The building was damaged but the landlord had managed to create a living space. We were exhausted and terribly hungry. Damien’s noodle soup tasted like heaven. Each of us found a corner, a sofa or even a bed for the luckiest, and we all collapsed.