When the killer Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines last November, SBS presenter Kathy Novak was very concerned. Her family were trapped in the epicentre of the disaster while she was reporting on the event on the ground.
Now, with the next typhoon season rapidly approaching, Kathy returns to see how her family and the locals are coping with the aftermath of the unimaginable catastrophe for a special report on Tuesday’s Dateline.
A relative was among the more than 6,000 who died in one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded. Others were lucky to survive as their homes were deluged.
Reunited with her family in Tacloban, one of the worst affected areas, Kathy finds that the rebuilding progress is slow. Huge ships that were washed onto land by the power of a five metre wall of water still lie abandoned, surrounded by new makeshift homes.
Millions were displaced, thousands are still living in tents, and some, like Kathy’s cousin, have moved away completely.
Kathy meets the local mayor Alfred Romualdez, who shares footage of his dramatic escape. She also meets the federal government’s “rehab czar”, Panfilo Lacson, to discuss why people are still living in tents that, by international standards, should only be used for two months.
“There is bureaucracy in any government in any country in the world,” he tells her, “… I would rather sacrifice speed and work on the side of caution… because these are public funds.”
What concerns Kathy most is that rebuilding in the same place means that history could repeat itself at any time. As the next typhoon season approaches, Kathy asks if Tacloban will be ready for another catastrophic event.
Tuesday 17 June at 9.30pm on SBS ONE.