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Michael in the Philippine's Update #3
Woke up at 3:30am to catch a boat from Cebu to Ormoc. I'm very lucky to have a companion in Andoi, who is the brother of the LDS leader I'll be working with in Tacloban. He's a really fun guy, and he favors a Philippine version of Jamie Foxx.
The boat ride was 2.5 hours, I slept most of it. Once we got off the boat in Ormoc, the devastation was obvious, most trees are damaged or snapped in half. Damage to buildings is very similar in that it is as if the roofs have been ripped off.
We rented a mini van in Ormoc and drove straight over to Tacloban, bringing our own food and water. I'm staying with a handful of saints in a church building that is in pretty good shape. We saw 6 LDS chapels on the drive, some had damage, most had displaced members living in them.
Biggest resources that are hard to find right now are gasoline and water, but I think we can scrounge around. We really need gas- that is the biggest issue.
We had an amazing meeting today with the lead contact with the Salvation Army whom I worked with in Haiti. I can't be specific for security reasons, but there are some major collaborations going on in terms of how the local LDS church leaders can help the SA with some of it's logistics issues. I'm wording this as carefully & conservatively as I can, but suffice it to say such a partnership will dramatically speed up the influx of (a significant amount) food aid into Tacloban. Logistics are a nightmare in these situations and I think the results of this meeting will speed things up 1-2 weeks.
The infrastructure of the Mormon church here and surrounding areas is formidable. Knowing how hard (and slow) it is to get aid groups to collaborate and work together, you can probably image how excited I am to witness this.
The church leadership here is doing just an amazing, amazing job, especially since they have never seen anything like it. They have been hustling 100s of miles to get gas, food and water to meet the temporary needs of the members here. The church leadership I surrounding areas have also mobilized food and hygiene kits into the devastated areas as well on a smaller, more urgent scale. Their initiative, hustle & commitment cannot be overstated.
My role is looking more and more like it will be primarily as a consultant to local church leadership in Tacloban, as well as a liaison with at least SA (maybe other groups as well).
Internet connection is sporadic and bad in many places, which explains why I cannot post images at this time, but I hope to soon.