From the Ground: Hours After the Storm

By Mikhaela de Leon, World Vision Philippines

Here' s a glimpse of what our World Vision communications colleague Mikhaela de Leon saw hours after the landfall in Tacloban City, Leyte. She will soon share her full story and images during and Haiyan's onslaught. Grateful Ela was spared and now she's determined to be a voice for the survivors who needed all the help. World Vision carries on its relief operations to bring aid to the children and families affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

I wrote this in my diary while I was waiting to board the C-130 plane bound for Manila from Tacloban:

'I learned the smell of death.'

The stench of at least 1,000 dead bodies hung in the air as I took the longest and most depressing walk of my life. I will never forget that trip to the Tacloban Airport – it was noontime, and the air already humid and stale, a far cry from the billowing winds of two days prior. 

A jeepney driver ahead told us to cover our noses as we passed for the air reeked of the dead. 

“Where are the bodies?” I asked him, as I didn’t see any.

“There in the rubbles, buried in those collapsed houses. Hundreds of them,” he said.

I cringed. It didn't take long before I actually saw them. 

In the streets lined up dead bodies -- bloated and stiff, their bodies twisted in awkward poses. I had never once imagined myself seeing such a ghastly scene: human corpses and dead animals lying side by side along the highway as though on exhibit. 

"Yan ang nangyayari sa matitigas ang ulo. Ayaw kasi mag-evacuate kahit sinabihan na." (They were stubborn. They were told to evacuate but they didn't listen.), heard someone say. 

I looked away. It felt disrespectful to stare. I walked on. I was only thinking one thing: home.