Yolanda Village: Saying Goodbye
Yolanda Village grew out of the desperation and determination of 16 million people to survive the worst Typhoon ever recorded. Tacloban and surrounding areas of the Philippines were totally devastated in November 2013 by Super Typhoon Haiyan. Super Typhoon Haiyan is known locally as Super Typhoon Yolanda. Yolanda ripped through the Southern Leyte! She totally destroyed everything in her wake. Villages were flattened. Thousands died and many are still missing. Farmers were left homeless! Coconut plantations had been ripped up. Their life’s work had disappeared over night. The working poor in Tacloban were now, the new city homeless. They had no jobs in sight. Fisherman were not only homeless, but they had no boats. Without boats, they can not fish! Many large operations saw their ships washed up to sit on hills. The area around the ships was a no build zone. People soon built a shanty town in the wake of the ships. Fisherman wanted to be as close to the water as they could get. Shanty towns were erected. Shanty towns quickly became the “new normal.” Yolanda Village was born!
January 2015 and things are changing. The Philippines is on the road to recovery. Now, they are in the rehabilitation and reconstruction stage. Three hundred families are leaving Yolanda Village for their new homes. The government used the aid to purchase building materials and to hire contractors. The people have been doing the sweat equity. New concrete block homes are being built with corrugated roofs. Recovery is always slow, but after only one year, 300 families are saying goodbye to Yolanda Village. Many are thankful for their new permanent home! It is their home! It is the work of their hands! The determination and will to survive made it happen. Others are moving into their temporary homes. They will begin to help build their new permanent homes. This scene is scheduled to be replayed throughout the year of 2015 and beyond. One day there will be no one left in Yolanda Village. All the shanty towns will be gone.
What is happening to these huge ships that call Yolanda Village home? They are being dismantled one by one! The material is being sold as scrap metal and reclaimed lumber. The ships are on their way out! There is a new normal in sight for this southern Leyte region. Tacloban City has seen about 50% of their essential services and business restored. People,once again, have running water and electricity. Farmers are clearing their lands of the giant fallen coconut trees and planting rice. They only make about 50% of what they did with their plantations, but it is money coming in. Many work on the side elsewhere, as they try to pay off the loans made against last years failed coconut harvest. Many fishermen still have no boats, but many of them now have homes. Some fisherman are back on the water, due to donated boats. All are thankful for what 2014 brought. It is yet another step toward recovery.
The year 2015 is all about the hope and determination of 16 million people who have made the choice to move forward. It is a new day! With the aid coming into the country, more building materials will be bought. Farmers will clear fields and replant. Fishing boats will once again be at work. The residents of Yolanda Village are on their way home! Plantation owners are becoming rice farmers! The fisherman dream of a day when they can once again fish. This is the New Norm in the Southern Leyte. It is one of hope! It is one of progress!