All Photos: DJ Struntz
Nearly two weeks ago, Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines. At 370 miles wide, and with gusts of 235 mph, it is said to be the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall. 13 million people have been affected by the storm. Thousands of lives have been lost, and hundreds of thousands of lives have been shattered. Hell has broken loose.
Jon Rose seeks to help piece it back together. Jon is the captain of Waves For Water charity vessel and he is steering it directly toward the Philippines. W4W's objective is to provide those in need with access to clean water -- especially in disaster zones. I spoke with Jon last week, just hours before he embarked on the mission. We talked about his plan, his support and the road ahead.
SURFING Senior Photographer DJ Struntz accompanied Jon and you can see a few of his photos above. Below the interview, you will find updates from Waves For Water’s first few days on Ground Zero. --Brendan Buckley
SURFING Magazine: So what's the plan?
Jon Rose: We're staging out of Cebu and we'll be planning strikes to different regions that we feel are hardest hit from there.
How's the support been so far?
It's been pretty good! We don't go based on the support that comes in. Someone, or some entity, usually steps up and says that it will give us the support we need to get started. And from there, we'll go over and set up the program. Then all the extra support helps grow the program. For this initiative, there's already been extra support to bring three-hundred filters on the first strike. That can provide 30,000 people with access to fresh water. And we've already raised enough to do another 300 for the next strike.
Are you stressed going into this?
Since the organization was started, we've responded to nine disasters. That means we have experience in terms of strategizing and implementing. Every disaster is different, but I feel like we have a good plan heading into this one. I'll do the first round, get it done, get all of our networks set up and once we’ve run out of filters, I’ll come back and do a second round.
If somebody donated right now, where would their money go?
It's straightforward at this point. Any support is just going to buying more filters. We'll already have out networks set up, so any additional funding will be turned directly into filters.
Updates from Jon:
Three hours of sleep last night straight into a long day of preparing for the next two days of strike missions. We spent the majority of the day procuring three-hundred buckets (for our filtration systems) and coordinating with all the local leads. We are now locked and loaded; three-hundred systems ready to be distributed to the hardest hit disaster zones. I expected this project to be logistically challenging due to it being on an island chain but I have to say, thing are lining up rather nicely. Thanks to Carla Rowland, who has flown down to Cebu from her part-time home in northern Philippines to help us run logistics and planning, we have a damn good course of action lined up. Tomorrow we have been cleared for a C130 flight to Tacloban, an epicenter of Haiyan’s wrath. We will be supplying the various distribution channels we’ve been in contact with out there with a solution that will provide a continuous source of clean water as opposed to the one time use bottles that are currently being shipped out there. This will no doubt be a game changer for them.
We did our first strike missions yesterday to the northern tip of Cebu Island – focusing primarily on two of the hardest hit towns, Daanbantayan and Bogo. We distributed 100 filters between the two towns. This many systems can produce enough clean water for up to 10,000 people in that region. We were led by our friends and JCI (Junior Chamber International) who had great points of contact in both towns. I will add that some of the villages up there are completely annihilated -- literally flattened, except for a few concrete structures. It is hard to even picture what the area looked like before this catastrophe. It’s surreal looking at a landscape on nothing but stripped, snapped, or uprooted trees with no vegetation between. I saw similar looking widespread damage in the Mentawai Islands after a big Tsunami in 2010. Imagine taking a lush jungle that you normally can’t see 10 feet in front of you and stripping everything away to just a skeleton forrest of bare tree trunks (the ones that managed not to snap) and now able to see for miles right through it. It really is surreal looking.
The one big takeaway for me yesterday was the overwhelming influx of locals helping locals. We say so many trucks made up of groups from the cities that weren’t hit, donating their time to drive around and pass out relief supplies – food, water, clothing, etc. They were not organizations or traditional relief workers. Just good-hearted citizens that wanted to help their fellow brothers and sisters in need. Honestly we saw no international aid groups at all, with the exception of MSF and the Israeli military/medics.
I have been so touched by the people of the Philippines. They are genuine, good-natured people. It will be an incredibly long and hard road, but they will rebound from this. No doubt in my mind.