First flight: From Tacloban to Manila
MANILA, Philippines – It was the first time he rode an airplane. Along with about 200 passengers on that flight, 38-year-old Lemuel Cinco was on board a military C-130 aircraft. The journey was not as much about going to Manlia as it was about getting away from Tacloban.
In the past 3 days, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the US military have airlifted an estimated 4,200 evacuees from Tacloban and Cebu. Villamor Airbase, headquarters of the PAF, has become an evacuation center, debriefing center, emergency room and soup kitchen for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Cinco, who is confined to a wheelchair since he was stricken with polio when he was two years old, recounts how a friend carried him to the roof of their church when the storm surge hit Tacloban. “It was about 6 or 7 in the morning when ankle-deep water flooded our church. Within minutes, it was waist deep,” says Cinco, who is a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints or Mormons.
He says there were about 300 people inside their church, all of whom fortunately survived that fateful day. “One of the walls of the church actually collapsed,” he adds.
However, the Mormon faithful and other members of the community who sought shelter in the church survived the storm. But they faced another dilemma. Like everywhere else in Tacloban, they no longer had food and water. The stench of death and decay was likewise too overwhelming to bear. In addition, they feared their safety.
“We’ve heard reports about people looting other people’s homes, women being raped, and convicts on the loose,” says Cinco, who has decided to stay with his sister in Letre, Fairview.
As Cinco waits for his sister, a new batch of evacuees arrive at Villamor. The PAF will reportedly airlift more evacuees in the next 30 days. And the exodus continues. – Rappler.com