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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Philippines-Months After Super Typhoon Yolanda Jobs Leaves Tacloban

Survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda gather at the gates of an electric utility to recharge lights and cellphones in Tacloban. Jan. 23, 2014. 3 months after the storm pummeled this once thriving provincial capital, the slow restoration of electricity has compounded problems as the local economy tries to recover and officials fear that young people who can leave are giving up on Tacloban for good. As Jesse Siozon waited for his grandfather's funeral to begin, beneath  the orange and blue tarps that serve as the roof for the storm damaged Sto. Nino Church he spoke of a double loss. His grandfather may well have been the last person in this bedraggled city to succumb to injuries and illnesses brought on by Super Typhoon Yolanda. And now Siozon, a 30 yr. old nurse is being forced to leave Tacloban his family's hometown for 4 generations because efforts to rebuild have stalled and jobs have disappeared for skilled workers like him. Nearly 3 months after some of the strongest sustained winds ever recorded drove ashore a wall of water up to 25 ft. high, this once-thriving university city and provincial capital shows relatively few signs of economic recovery despite an international rescue effort. At night, it's mainly plunged into darkness and the few temporary houses completed by the government have been declared too cramped for human habitation. The city is caught in a spiral of deprivation that will be hard to break, especially given the scope of a catastrophe that killed at least 6,000 people and was the deadliest natural disaster in the world last year. Without power and other basics, business are finding it difficult to recover. And without commerce the city will continue to loose money and talent. The continuing confusion has left this city which once envisioned becoming a new economic hub, struggling to hold on to young and talented residents. Like Siozon they are leaving for work elsewhere in the Philippines growing economy. Sitting in a modest 2nd floor office, in a municipal building where the 1st floor was gutted by the storm, Yaoskin checked off the list of people he knows who have left. His cousin a lawyer now works for a large company in Manila. The secretary at his church took a job at a call center in Cebu, on another island 100 miles away.       
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