MMI Philippines Medical Director, Dr. Allan Melicor provided this update after spending a week in the devastation zone:
We just got back from 5-day medical and relief mission in the typhoon-ravage province of Leyte. There were 14 of us – 4 from our church in CDO City, 4 from BBH, and 6 from LBH. The team was composed of 4 doctors, 4 nurses, 1 dentist, 1 pharmacist, 1 security officer/general helper, 1 pharmacy assistant/general helper, 1 logistic officer, 1 pastor/general helper. The LBH team brought the hospital’s service which really helped our mobility.
The strongest typhoon ever recorded in the history of mankind packed a force of 314kph wind storm surge (tidal wave) that rose up to 20ft sweeping many coastal villages – the one great cause of death. Second were from falling coconut trees. To date, 3643 have been reported to have died; near two thousand missing.
The devastation was total and immense. One town we visited was the town of Tanauan. This town had the highest deaths reported at 2,000. 100% of villages destroyed, 100% of homes destroyed, 100% of crops destroyed. The vice mayor, who is a doctor brought us to a far-flung coastal village for us to do medical relief mission. Our team was the first of such help that came to the village. We spent the whole day there. We saw lots of patients with wounds, gave tetanus shots, did wound care, surgery on complex and huge wounds, repaired a lady’s face that became like an open book from her nose to the upper lip she was treated for respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal problems, etc.
In another place, we pulled out a glass splinter from the skull of an elderly lady who was brought in dazed. This was at a hospital where we were called to help a medical doctor who had been on duty continuously for the past 4 days. At the same hospital we pulled out a 4-inch glass splinter from a young woman’s thigh, another removal from a 16-yr old boy who had difficulty walking because of a piece of glass embedded on his heel…and many more situations of infected wounds, scalp lacerations, etc. The scenario was the same in many places we were able to serve.
Our team was self-contained, mobile and self-sufficient. Thanks to the officials of the province of Leyte that provided us a secure place where we were able to retreat each night to sleep and provide us with fuel when the supply was available. The need is so vast that it overwhelmed the local government. All government buildings were destroyed, communications are down, most roads impassable, and the stench of death filled the air. There were situations where the rescuers were also having to be rescued. The Mayor of Tacloban City and his family almost perished in the storm surge. They had to hang on for almost two hours to the house rafters when the sea rose up to 20 feet. Of the City’s work force of 2,500 only 70 were able to report for work the day after the typhoon.
Slowly, the whole province and the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc are recovering. Help from within the country and outside are pouring in. Roads are now passable. The electric cooperative has started to replace fallen electric poles, communications are being restored, retrieval and relief continue though the situation is far from over. The next big task will be to rebuild the people’s homes and lives and restoring the province to its feet. They will also need to get the economy and agriculture industry back up and running.
Do KEEP LEYTE IN YOUR PRAYERS!!!
Dr. Allan Melicor
MMI Philippines, Medical Director