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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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11.20.13         philippines disaster relief effort  

Michael in the Philippine's Update #5: Moving Invisible Targets


We ran into another problem with Truck number 2, it doesn't have a horn, which is critical here in the Philippines as an early warning to pedestrians. It is used constantly. After last nights "Michael will stick his head out the window to see where we are going", Andoi and I figured out that when he wanted to honk his horn, he would just tap the center of the wheel, and I would make the loudest honking noise I could, screaming it out the window. I'm sure you can imagine how ridiculous I looked and sounded to passerbys, but it sure made us laugh. We almost ran over a little piglet (you are reading that correctly) on the way back, and here I was screaming a honking noise at this little pig, Andoi is screaming because he's about to hit it and the owner of the pig is also screaming because he was about to watch his hard earned cash go bye-bye. The hilarity of the three of us all screaming different things at the same time with this little pig scurrying underneath our SUV would have been a sight to behold.

Andoi decided to swing by another chapel on the way home. Of all my experiences tagging in Japan and Haiti, the situation at this LDS church was among the very worst I had ever seen. Countless members living there, it was filthy and the situation was desperate. We immediately gave them half of the water supplies we were bringing back to Tacloban, and we were told that was the only water they had and would be drinking. That's a good idea of how crazy things are here.

We have a huge delivery (four truck loads) of food and supplies coming in tomorrow do this should be resolved very soon.

A trio of return missionaries were there with them, and I feel the members felt good to have them there. They didn't have transportation, but must had been very determined to make it to that chapel to stand with their friends in their time of need. My first thought was to try to find them some wheels as they will be staying until Dec 2 and need to move around.

Spent the afternoon at the airport, Andoi picked up supplies from a member that had flown them in, I met up with my friends with the Salvation Army who were giving out water and crackers to the evacuees. Some of them had been stranded there for days, have some good clips of it on my Instagram.

I'm also coordinating with SA about their food arriving shortly, and helping them get it stored and delivered.

A reoccurring theme we are running into is the problems we are having with transportation. Our cars are constantly breaking down, we do not have larger trucks, and a HUGE amount of aid is coming. There are also scores of volunteers coming, but today President Aban was in meetings and being interviewed by CNN (they shot a special which should air shortly), so Andoi and I found ourselves in position to be decision makers and prepare for these moving invisible targets of need. We want to be ready so we don't have to "get ready".

One of the members has a big truck and we proposed that he work full time for us for a month. The Salvation Army and us will both use him, and we got a great deal. We also have a mechanic coming tomorrow to fix everything we have because we need these cars running. We also need to find vehicles for other volunteers, one of which Taylor Stockwell an RM I connected with on FB will be joining us. My good friends Craig Arnold and Andre should be arriving on Sunday, with Bob Poff, who packaged the food from the money we raised, should arrive next week. There are also 20+ return missionary volunteers coming to Leyte next Monday, then the meals we funded shortly after that. So yes, help is coming and in the mean time, there is a whole lot of hustling going on.

Something I noticed about the destruction here as compared to Haiti & Japan, is that in Haiti the destruction was based on how strong the buildings were. It Japan, in was costal towns that were hit the hardest. Here on Leyte, it is absolutely just everywhere. Not as many deaths, but the square surface area of the damage is just staggering. So many people are leaving Tacloban that it has potential to become a ghost town within a few more weeks. I don't think that will happen because there are so many poor people that have to stay, but the scale of the destruction is that big.

Something I noticed today is that the reason I love these disaster aid trips so much, is that they are the ultimate proving ground of an individual.

The scenario is one that cannot be won & you are up against tremendous odds, you search daily for hope among the midst of ruins and death, your sacrifice will be infinitesimally small & unmeasurable inion the large scale, and you will face it everyday you are there.

I have a tremendous desire to be the very best I can be in everything, but these aid trips...nothing else compares to them from a learning perspective. They require tenacity, sacrifice and determination. I use every skill set I can think of. It requires excellent people skills, networking, problem solving, fund raising, ingenuity, forces you to take initiative, yet other times be extremely patient. You have to be physically and mentally strong because you are surrounded by stress. You re-learn gratitude, not taking a shower for a week or two will do that. You appreciate your blessings much more. You find greater empathy. As you struggle, working & living day in and day out side by side with those who are truly afflicted, you make life long friends.

There really is nothing else I'd rather be doing.

We have a huge, busy day tomorrow.
Huey's kicked out a bunch of food to a remote town.
Unfortunately, where there is "drop delivery" it is every man for himself, typically the strongest and fastest get the most, which they will often sell.

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