I arrived in Tacloban, the city hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan, just as desperate families were trying to flee. The airport was chaotic and barely functioning. Located on a thin peninsula, it had been slammed on both sides by huge surges of water and battered by some of the highest wind speeds ever recorded on land. Filipino military and U.S. Air Force personnel were ferrying aid, trying their best to control the crowds as survivors scrambled to board any available flight.
The next day I set out to capture the destruction of the city and surrounding area. The scope and magnitude of the physical damage was staggering as was the misery of the people I encountered. They were desperate for food, water, shelter and a way out.
Bodies were literally piled in the streets. Even now, a full week after the typhoon struck, authorities are still searching the rubble for the dead so they can bury them in mass graves. A firefighter I met was on duty the night of the storm and has returned each day to his destroyed neighborhood to look for the bodies of his father and brother.
It seemed to take a long time for aid and relief to reach those who needed it. The first food handout I saw in Tacloban occurred more than four days after the storm. Despite the dire shortages of nearly everything, people have been remarkably hospitable to me, even offering me food from what little they had. It’s humbling to witness that sort of generosity and resilience. I hope as the media spotlight fades, the rest of the world does not forget the plight of the thousands here who have had their homes and lives ripped apart.
Adam Dean is a photographer based in Beijing. He is represented by Panos Pictures.