Tacloban was the most damaged city after Super Typhoon Haiyan roared through the Philippines on November 8, 2013. Days after the disaster, bodies of residents caught off-guard by the fast rising waters remained scattered on the streets or on the surface of the sea. Dozens more bodies were lined up in bags, waiting to be taken to mass burial sites. Almost every single person in Tacloban was looking for missing family members, food and water through the streets littered with debris. Hundreds more were trying to leave Leyte Island, where Tacloban is located.
The most poignant story I witnessed there was when a woman and her two children tried to board a Coca Cola fridge to flee to a neighboring island. Aid workers prevented the mother, who had reportedly lost her mental balance after she lost her husband and many relatives to Typhoon Haiyan, from boarding the fridge. The woman only said her age – 35 – and that they needed to leave Tacloban City as soon as possible. The children, a boy and a girl, were very distressed and crying. According to the government of the Philippines, 14,1 million people were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. More than four million were displaced.