A few days ago Mr. Chopstix returned from an unforgettable trip to Tacloban, Philippines.
He was recruited for a one-week medical relief trip and departed a few days later.
They arrived on site about 2 weeks after Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated large parts of the Philippine islands on Nov 8.
Above you can see locals lined up to board a plane going away from there.
Security was visible everywhere, and many police officers and soldiers came from other parts of the country since the local force was decimated by the disaster.
This was the astrodome building where many fled to for safety, but due to the roof blowing off, water from the storm surge flowing in and a resultant whirlpool effect at the ground level, the crowd panicked and some were killed in a stampede.
Along with housing demolished everywhere, the hospitals were all affected to varying degrees, as seen above.
Due to the 10-12 foot waves flooding the area with the storm surge, hospital generators were destroyed as well.
Many other countries set up field hospitals around the city, while China’s Peace Ark was anchored in the bay.
This 4-story fully equipped floating hospital is available for surgeries, ICU, NICU and other high-level care currently not available on land.
Arien, the young intern doctor seen above working with their team, was working when the storm hit.
She told of a patient who just completed surgery, who stood up to run away and started bleeding everywhere.
Another patient receiving a blood transfusion also leaped up with blood spraying everywhere.
The NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) was on the ground floor getting flooded, and the staff had to quickly place the infants in cardboard boxes and take them up to another floor.
Meanwhile, Arien had no idea for at least 3 days if her family was alive.
Her dedication to medicine and Christian service was tested in a major way.
They saw over 900 patients in 5 clinic days, with many receiving wound care, vaccination for tetanus and measles, and countless in need of psychosocial care after such a traumatic event.
One police officer epitomized in my husband’s mind the unspoken heroes staying behind to work despite their own grief and losses and uncertainties.
As he was talking, it became apparent that his shortness of breath was in fact not asthma but likely related to anxiety attacks at night.
Yet he was committed to helping others.
Boats on land, trucks in the sea.
Pieces of homes everywhere.
A foul smell in the air reminded one of the unsearched piles of rubble and 1799 persons who are still missing.
Will this city turn into a ghost town?
With God’s help, hopefully rebuilding can be a part of the healing process of the soul as well as the city.