One By One, Businesses Reopen In Typhoon-Hit Tacloban

Nov 20, 2013
Originally published on December 12, 2013 11:51 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's take a look now at an important sign of revival in the city worst hit by the recent typhoon in the Philippines, the resumption of some commercial activity. Today in Tacloban, five gas stations, two hardware stores and several banks reopened.

As NPR's Russell Lewis reports, survivors say it's a small but important step in the recovery.

RUSSELL LEWIS, BYLINE: No matter where you go in Tacloban, you hear the sound of clean-up.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLEANUP CREW)

LEWIS: These workers sweep shards of wood, broken glass and thick black muck into a pile, huge excavators toss it into dump trucks.

This is what you hear all across town. But today, it was another sound that greeted storm-weary residents.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEPING)

LEWIS: Three ATM's at this Landbank are now operating. At times, hundreds of people stood in the 90-degree heat to get cash. Rose Bancoro waited four hours for her turn. For the first time since the storm, she says, her children will get something other than canned fish for dinner.

ROSE BANCORO: So they've been eating sardines for almost two weeks. I have to try to get some cash so I can buy meat because they're already selling pork and chicken. So at least maybe before I can go home I can buy, already, pork or chicken.

(LAUGHTER)

LEWIS: Several police officers with black rifles slung over their shoulders stood near the ATM. Bank employee Alvin Cesar was overseeing people's transactions. He says the bank's the opening is good for the community.

ALVIN CESAR: Trying to rebuild their lives. Slowly. It's starting from the money that they took out from us, then they started to purchase goods for their houses and for their food. But to start with their lives, it starts here.

LEWIS: As residents in Tacloban piece together their lives, Rose Bancoro says the storm's devastation has been a great equalizer.

BANCORO: Rich and poor now are just equal. We have to fall in line to get gas. We have to fall in line to buy stuff. We have to fall in line to get money. So rich and poor are just a little bit even.

LEWIS: Every day additional businesses open: roadside markets selling fruits and vegetables are popping up. More gas stations are coming online. Soon restaurants may open their doors. Small steps - but important ones.

Russell Lewis, NPR News, Tacloban. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.