Last November, an exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone devastated portions of Southern Asia, and particularly the Philippines, where its is known as typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan for the rest of the world).
Virginia was at her place on November 8, when it hit Tacloban, the capital and seat of government of the Region of Eastern Visayas (see map here). One week afterwards, she was leaving the city bringing with her the photos albums of a lifetime. For the last two months, she has spent her days trying to dry them.
Yolanda caused massive destruction across the city. Dead bodies were scattered on the streets, trees were uprooted, every single building, every single house, were severely damaged.
Somehow, Virginia was lucky. She had planned to renovate her house, a renovation that had just started, the first step having been to elevate the level of the house, that far stuck in a basin. Only the bedroom and bathroom had been elevated that far. Otherwise, she would have probably drown during that very night…
Widespread looting is reported to have taken place and local government virtually collapsed, as many city officials were victims. Four jails had to be evacuated, as inmates couldn’t be fed anymore. 70 of them escaped. That’s when Virginia’s niece decided to pick up her aunt and bring her to a safer location.
Unfortunately, the albums’ plastic sticks to the pictures, and memories are melting with gelatin. Yolanda stole her future, but also grabbed her past. Is her present a burden or a relief, I didn’t dare to ask…
As of December 5, The death toll stands at 7,000 people in Tacloban.