How Remote Islands Are Coping with Typhoon Haiyan’s Devastation
Across the Leyte Gulf from the Filipino city of Tacloban, where Typhoon Haiyan killed upwards of 10,000 people, lies the island of Eastern Samar. It was once an under-the-radar tourist destination—its idyllic beaches lined with surf shacks. Today, the island and its largest city, Guiuan, are in shambles, having faced what was perhaps the largest storm in recorded history head on.
Haiyan’s eye passed just miles south of Guiuan early last Friday morning, sending 200-mile winds and a 20-foot storm surge onto its coast. I drove from Tacloban to Guiuan this week to see how this remote community of fishernmen and banana farmers is coping with the catastrophe of a lifetime.
Guiuan is a city made up of 60 barangays, or sub-villages, where around 70,000 people live. According to Kitchy Bayan, secretary to the mayor, there have been 85 reported deaths, 24 missing, and 482 injured. These figures are much smaller than reported deaths in Tacloban, but the numbers don’t include information from the island barangays that are now completely isolated because the storm destroyed the only means of transportation—boats. There is still no electricity across Samar and mobile phone service has yet to be restored. For those who are known to have perished, the end came quickly.
No Warning 7: Ambushed
Dir: Aiden Riley
Two weeks before writing this, I was in sunny Los Angeles with VICE’s global editor, Andy Capper, filming retired porn star Belladonna for an upcoming episode of my Skinema show. The family was back in New Jersey, and I could drink until sunrise, pick fights with Parisians, and walk around my hotel room nude; I was on vacation without a care in the world. I should have just stayed in LA, because the day I arrived back home in New Jersey the airport was full of fearful folk running around with their hands above their heads, doing the Steve Martin and screaming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
We were 24 hours away from getting ass-raped by Hurricane Sandy. California refuses to acknowledge any part of the country outside its borders, so during the week I was out there I had heard nothing of this megastorm. I had to prepare my home, my skate shops, my family, and my world in general for outright disaster, and I was very late to the party. None of the stores in or around my town had any generators, flashlights, food, or really anything left on the shelves.
Luckily, every skateboard filmer owns a generator, and my friend R.B. Umali was kind enough to lend me his since he undoubtedly wouldn’t be able to run it in his Manhattan apartment once Sandy hit. Less than two hours before the city closed the Holland Tunnel, I raced in and out of NYC to grab the only hope I had of keeping my family warm and our fridge running.
Thankfully, I was spared. My home received only minimal damage, my shops were unscathed, and I was only without power for a week. But the rest of New Jersey was absolutely devastated. My hometown and the boyhood home of Jon Bon Jovi, Sayreville, was flooded by the Raritan River at high tide on the night of October 28, and the full moon only brought the surge farther in. Houses are now kindling. The high-water marks show that, in some places, the surge reached well above head-high. Many good, hardworking people lost their homes, which were condemned because they were flooded with toxic water contaminated by a feces-filled sewage plant on one side of the river and the Edgeboro landfill on the other. Every town in New Jersey along the river, the Atlantic Ocean, and Raritan Bay suffered the same fate. I have been overwhelmed with sadness and despair for my fellow New Jerseyans.
In the aftermath, while delivering food and warm clothes to those in need, I have seen underdressed infants shivering in cold and dark homes without power; as of press time, there have been no signs of power being restored, and aid workers are nowhere to be found. One father I met was working diligently, without light or heat, to cut open all the walls on the first floor of his house in an attempt to remove the drenched and damaged drywall and insulation before mold set in. He told me that FEMA had cut him a check. I asked whether it would cover the damage, and he laughed and said, “It wouldn’t even cover a new heating unit.” And because his property had been rezoned two years ago, he was without flood insurance. With tears in his eyes, he removed his glove to shake my hand and thank me for the box of donated clothes that skate companies had sent me. His palms were so cold it was like shaking hands with a corpse.
Someone in California texted me, asking, “Is everything back to normal over there? The national news isn’t covering it anymore.” I laughed. We are going to have to create a new definition for “normal,” because things will never, ever be the same for the people of New Jersey.
Girl News - The Girls’ Guide to Winter
That it gets dark at noon or w/e is of less consequence when you think about winter as a Laplandian fairytale (Lapland is like Narnia but without all the stuff) instead of something brutalist and immovable and boring. Also, can I be a little bit real with you? I’m missing Rihanna to write this, and that’s because instead of doing it before, I am doing it now, and that’s because I am the kind of perennial dummy who doesn’t understand Future Kate as a real being with needs and limitations. But I did get a new coat in the mail today, and that makes up for it? So actually winter is really boring but in a way that is restorative for summer hedonisms so we should do a little thank-you prayer for winter even though it sucks a million.
Have you guys been paying attention to Taylor’s new record? What do we think about Red? Here is a lil’ taste: “Losing him was blue like I’d never known / Missing him was dark gray, all alone / Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met / But loving him was reeeeeeed” etc etc etc. Like you are also pretty sure she is laughing at us all the time, right?
Anyway, winter is silver, for me. I guess it’s a triple-obvious to initially characterize a time/month/season as so totally synesthetic—that is, for a thing or idea to correspond to a color, the way some people hear “eleven” and think “purple”—but so much of what a season is is experienced around it, before or after (see above re: summertime wildtimes, you know what I mean, you can feel that sun on your shoulders and that convertible backseat dick-grazing already) and the synesthetic experience of winter is silver, all the way from a dull, frozen metal silver to a glittery, tinsely fairy-lit silver. Or, in magazine or blogspeak, the “color story” of winter is silver, and even if you have to squint at a pile of filthy snow to make it happen, you can do it. Recasting a Total (if temporary) Drag-thing like this, like something almost fun and special, is just better for you.
Word to all girls and to any boy who has paid actual, intellectual attention to the girl experience, and knows that being cold is this common, constant bodily reality, and therefore knows that like anything else boys want to complain about (work, pain, political oppression) you probably had it worse. (Oooooh faced!) (I’m just kidding, fucking relax.)
“Sweatpants are disgusting” is the bottom line, but that’s only part true. The legacy of Juicy Couture asses and Free City thighs and high school kids on the subway in daytime sweats have left the mostly correct impression that sweatpants are too hard and too horrible to get right.
Most sweatpants are doing something that is “college” (too soft, pastel, slouchy, worn in a compromised, hunchy posture, the inside lined with a steady, clammy mist of hangover sweat from the malt liquor pre-drinks and the runny bar rail G&Ts and then a tasty slice and then whatever non-cure—Coffee? Laxatives? Froot Loops and an ice-cold can of Coke?—you took that morning), but what you want them to do is something that is “second grade” (that sort of not-soft and structure-giving outer material, drawstring pulled into a bunny-ears bow, cinched ankles and a no-nonsense color like navy blue or heather gray for maximum PLAYING results), where the haptic experience (a.k.a. “feeling”) is one of active but chilled ease, and not hopelessness.
Jeans in real winter will actually hurt your body, and will, like, reverse-burn it with freezingness (Ooooooh you know when you come inside in the winter and jump out of your jeans while you hop to the bathroom to pee and when you sit down your legs likesizzle because they got too warm too fast?); tights are too perfect and too played out to abuse and should be reserved for like Thursdays and Fridays at work; nylony leggings are cold as shit. A pair of new sweatpants that you call “trackies” when your boyfriend is around and understand as a pants-facilitator of “fun” and “doing” instead of “couch” (listen, when you’re that hungover just get naked, take a long steam, and drink Gatorade wrapped up in a cotton sheet all day, taaaa-rust me) subverts the expectations of sweatpants and will improve your winter Saturday ten-fold. Don’t sleep in them, though. Sleep in something silkaaaay.
Two ways to go with boyfriends in the winter. (If you have like an actual relationship then I guess skip this part or nap through it or whatever I don’t care.) The common wisdom is to get with someone cuddly-cozy, he probably has a beard and a big scarf and the whole point is not so much to “like” each other but to pass crunchycozycomfy time with movies and microwaved snacks until you check off shit like “the boring part of Christmas holidays” and “New Year’s Eve” and “that first week of March which remains horrible” and basically do arctic warfare with the weapon of a boring Starbucks relationship. So that’s fine. The second way is to find a beta fish who will worship you for five solid months and go out in the cold to walk your dog and pick up your library books and will be available to you for the aforementioned movie cuddles (because, look, everyone needs movie cuddles) but all without falsified and presumed interest, just more standard sexual power dynamics writ large by frosty windows. Choose wisely.