More Aid Reaching Remote Areas Of Philippines

Displaced typhoon survivors in Tacloban are still trying to get a handle on their lives being turned upside down. Many will be dependent on aid for months to come.

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A week and a half after one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall slammed into the Philippines millions remain homeless. The government now says four million people were displaced by Typhoon Haiyan. This is double their estimate from just a few days ago. Officials say the number is rising as aid workers reach more remote parts of the country.

The city of Tacloban was particularly hard hit by the storm, but NPR's Jason Beaubien reports things are steadily improving there.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Tacloban is still a mess. Almost all the commercial shops remain closed. Typhoon debris blocks some streets. But there's been huge progress here over the last week. Government garbage crews have cleared most of the main roads. And the sense of desperation from right after the storm has lifted.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING CROWD)

FATHER REYES: Tacloban.

CROWD: (Foreign language spoken)

REYES: Tacloban.

CROWD: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: This morning dozens of people shouted: Tacloban Will Rise Again and Tacloban Overcome. They marched from an overcrowded makeshift encampment to City Hall. They held signs thanking the international community for its support.

Clutching a megaphone Father Reyes jogs alongside the crowd. His philosophy about disaster recovery is that it's all about movement.

REYES: Those who are victims of disaster and are confined in evacuation camps like this one, have a tendency to just wait for aid, for relief.

BEAUBIEN: The Catholic priest says this is all wrong. He says typhoon victims can't wait for someone else to help them.

REYES: Progress, rehabilitation, healing is a decision. If I want to be healed, then I shall be healed. If I want to move forward then I shall move forward. And this is moving forward. So...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING CROWD)

REYES: Tacloban.

CROWD: (Foreign language spoken)

REYES: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: And all over Tacloban, people are moving forward even if it's only in small steps. Every day there's more traffic. People have started selling vegetables from wooden stalls along the roads. The bananas are way overpriced but at least they've returned. Each morning the streets are cleaner.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOVELING)

BEAUBIEN: Municipal garbage crews shovel the typhoon debris in to big orange dump trucks. These are the same trucks that a few days ago collected dead bodies from the streets. Occasionally corpses still wash back in from the bay but it's rare to see bodies in the streets any longer.

(SOUNDBITE OF A VEHICLE)

BEAUBIEN: One of the most significant improvements over the last couple days is running water. It's not on everywhere but the municipal water is starting to flow again.

KENT PAGE: We are at a water point where we see there are kids bathing with the hygiene buckets. There's a woman right here who's washing her clothes.

BEAUBIEN: Kent Page, with UNICEF, says the repair of the municipal water supply is a huge step forward.

PAGE: And a little further up the street there's playing in a place where the water is really pumping out and they're spraying each other with water. And there's another group of kids up there just throwing water over their heads and getting clean. So it's really good, especially for the prevention of water-borne diseases for people to be clean and to practice good hygiene.

BEAUBIEN: And it's not just about the prevention of disease. He says getting clean helps restore people's dignity and self-esteem. This water point is nothing more than a couple of small black hoses that spray water out on to the road. It's right across from the Astrodome where hundreds of people have lived in squalid conditions since the typhoon. People now can come here to wash their dishes and their children. The water is also treated, so it's drinkable.

The challenges for everyone here are still huge but they get a little smaller every day.

Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Tacloban.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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