Feature story by Kasper Nybo Photography.
This is the story and images from the battlefield Haiyan/Yolanda left behind. From endless fields of broken palm trees, from villages transformed into piles of rubble, families, individuals and children are returning to ground zero – or what used to be called home. Some return to rebuild, some search for belongings or loved ones buried under the rubble. Often the search continues in a smell of decay under the burning sun and high humidity, bringing the public health situation at risk.
Several days prior to the November 8th landfall of super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, meteorologists across the region started monitoring a large low-pressure area, and soon after, sending out warnings of a storm that continued to grow in strength and size. Little did they know that they were looking straight in the face of a storm that would be historic by all measures a few days later.
With Hayian being the 30th typhoon in the 2013 typhoon season, Philippine authorities are no strangers to storm warnings and evacuation plans. Quickly, some 800,000 people were moved to secure evacuation shelters as the storm approached. When Haiyan crushed ashore on the easternmost islands of the Philippines the brick-and-mortar structures of evacuation were however no match for what is now recorded as the strongest storm ever at landfall.
The jet-force winds tore entire villages, cities and farmlands apart, killing thousands. With the storm, came also an unanticipated – and massively forceful – storm-surge, sweeping some 6 meters high through the streets of Tacloban, the capital of the Leyte province. All risks had been highly underestimated and many perished in shelters and at home. Haiyan was by no means “just another storm”.
Now, the humanitarian situation in the areas devastated by Haiyan on November 8th is catastrophic – and remains so, even if the disaster has slipped out of general news headlines. Over 14 million people are affected, including some five million children. More than 3 million men, women and children have been displaced, many desperate for food, safe drinking water, basic shelter and sanitation.
Large scale vaccination programs are scrambling to keep epidemics at hand, rolled out by a large network of local and international organisations, community by community being slowly but steadily covered. Amidst the programs of vitamin and tetanus shots, there is however a growing concern of a possible larger scale outbreak of Denke virus – the large amounts of unclean still standing water, the lack of mosquito nets and the masses of people living without sufficient shelter and sanitation, all creating perfect conditions for the growth of the mosquitos carrying the disease. Doctors from all over the world are fighting this next battle trying to reach out to the most remote areas with medical attention.
In a paradox the Philippine people stand in the middle of massive relief efforts, but with a strong desire to rebuild – seemingly almost as strong as the search for food and water. Scenes of injured people trying to recover nails and building materials are growing every day.When asking people on the street how they’re doing, it’s the same story over and over again, as they reply:
Images and words by Kasper Nybo Photography. We work in the no-man’s land between narrative observation and visual storytelling, capturing authenticity and creating no-nonsense visual communication. We believe in the power of originality and honest stories across our line of work in editorial, commercial, artistic and humanitarian photography. Get in touch and let us know how we can help you deliver stronger stories! For bookings or questions click above. If you want to read more about us, click right here.