Tacloban, Part I

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I got an incredible opportunity recently to go to the typhoon disaster zone in the Philippines to help with relief efforts. The next few posts are going to be a series, things I wrote to kind of decompress after returning to my regular mission.

I saw a thing on the news today
about the new Playstation 4 that just came out and how so many people are mad
because of the glitches in the system (it was probably designed by the same
people who designed Obamacare). I remember previous news bulletins about the
gaming console when it was coming out in stores, and how people were waiting
outside the stores hundreds deep, police had to be called in to keep order,
riots happened, people got trampled on. Wasn’t it just a few years ago on black
Friday a person got trampled to death in the mad rush through the door of a
store?

Compare that to the people waiting
on the tarmac of Tacloban Airport after the typhoon. There were literally
thousands of them, most of whom had lost houses, family, possessions, and were
without food or water. The temperature was in the 100’s and ranging between 80
and 90 percent humidity. Torrential showers tore through every couple of hours
or so, and these people had no shelter other than umbrellas for the lucky ones,
scraps of cardboard, bits of plastic bag, mom’s shirt, whatever they could get
their hands on.
All of these scared, desperate
people who had just lost everything. Did they trample anyone down? No. Not one
person was directly injured by the crowd. Sure there were injuries from
dehydration, hunger and sun exposure, but no one got trampled, or beaten down.
I remember one group of about 500
that I worked with for a day and a half, or thereabouts, before I could get
them all on planes. During one plane loading I told them I could only take 40
people, but they pushed and shoved and squeezed so I ended up loading at least
60. There was supposed to be a group of 40 from another crowd loading after
them, but they only got about 20 on the plane because half of their spots had
been taken up by the first group.
After that I talked to one of the
police who was helping direct that crowd and gave him a message to pass on. I
said, “Everyone out here has been waiting and waiting for an airplane. Do you
see that group over there? Half of them had to be turned away because we
couldn’t wait our turn over here. I know you all want to get out now, but when
I see healthy, strong grown men pushing little old ladies and women with babies
out of the way to get on an airplane, that is just not right. That is wrong.” I
told him to relay that to the crowd while I went to prepare the next group for
the next airplane. He did, and I never had another problem with that crowd.
Do you think that appeal would have
met with similar success directed at a black Friday crowd?
I don’t.

What do you think? Join the discussion.

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