After setting out from home at 5 am this morning and two flights later, I'm here. Along the way, airline staff checking us in asked us where we were going and when we told them - to come to the worst hit parts of the Philippines to help the animals and their human companions affected by Typhoon Haiyan, they thanked us and said, "we need all the help we can get."
When we touched down in Manila this afternoon, we immediately went to meet the Philippines Animal Hospital Association (PAHA) to hear from them what areas they think have been hit hardest. Along with the work the initial members of our disaster response team who arrived earlier in the week, this will help us know where help is needed the most.
Then, I took an evening flight to Cebu - a major city in the hardest-hit Visayas region of the Philippines. The airport was full of aid workers from international NGOs, media and many, many anxious looking Filipinos, some of whom told me they were coming home from abroad to see what has happened to their families and homes. While Cebu city was spared much of the typhoon's fury, much of the surrounding areas were completely overwhelmed. Anecdotal accounts say vital food producing places with high animal populations like Capiz, a major fishing region and Daanbantayan a poultry farming region known as the "egg basket" of the Philippines were devastated by Haiyan (known locally as Typhoon Yolanda).
Amie from PAHA told me they name major storms events alphabetically in the Philippines. She said that so many typhoons and tropical storms have hit the Philippines this year, they have run out of letters and will name the next ones with A, B and so on. Yolanda (international name Haiyan), the 25th in 2013, was the worst on record and I'll be reporting back in the next few days what we see, hear and most importantly what we'll be doing to help.