Reporters from CNN and Al Jazeera shared their stories about reporting from Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on Friday, calling the experience “absolutely terrifying.”
CNN’s Andrew Stevens and Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, both sent to the city ahead of the storm, were stuck in what is believed to be one of the worst typhoons in human history. Over 10,000 people are estimated to have been killed.
Alindogan reported from one of the worst-hit areas, the coastal city of Tacloban, and told Democracy Now about her experience. About a minute into her live broadcast, she said, “the typhoon struck and it was just this incredible wind.”
“In just a matter of 30 minutes the water surged up as high, all the way up to the second floor [of her hotel], and we were stuck,” Alindogan added. She and hotel guests ended up climbing up to the ceiling and held onto the rafters. That began to cave in, she said.
“And all of a sudden the entire roof is gone, and we were exposed to this beast, this incredible power that is really unimaginable,” Alindogan said. “The sound is absolutely terrifying. It is horrific. I mean, it’s beyond what anybody else could imagine. I have covered armed conflict, but there is nothing like this. Nothing as incredible and as scary as covering a natural disaster like Typhoon Haiyan.”
Alindogan and the rest of the hotel guests managed to hide under some shelves in the hotel’s storeroom for several minutes until the water level began to go back down.
Steven was also in Tacloban, and kept the cameras rolling on what he described as a “white haze of screaming noise.” He’d just finished his report from the scene and was ready to move to a safer area when the storm hit. He reported from the scene again, a stairway-turned-waterfall in the background. As the storm surge rushed in, Stevens and his crew found themselves helping hotel guests escape from the flooded rooms using mattresses as rafts.
After the storm passed, the crew returned to the spot of Stevens’ live report and found it “a ruined shell.”
“But as we walked outside,” Stevens said. “It became immediately clear that so much of this city had suffered so much more.”
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