ANIBONG, Philippines – A year after Typhoon Haiyan turned a huge swath of the central Philippines into a body-littered wasteland, many survivors are struggling to rebuild their homes from the ruins, including in government-designated danger zones where future typhoons could wreck their lives again.
In the hard-hit coastal village of Anibong, shantytowns are rising around now-rusty cargo ships that were washed ashore by powerful waves from one of the strongest storms ever recorded to make landfall. One villager's house stands beside a concrete post marked, "No build zone."
Villagers say they rebuilt along the coast because they have nowhere else to go. Most are fishermen, and want to be close to their boats, but they say they are willing to relocate once the government gives them land or housing.
Haiyan's ferocious wind generated tsunami-like storm surges that swamped entire communities, leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing. More than 4 million people were displaced by the storm, which destroyed or damaged more than a million houses and knocked down millions of power posts and coconut trees.
Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman described the rebuilding effort as "gargantuan." He said that while many managed to rebuild their homes, the Philippine government, backed by foreign donors and aid organizations, still must resettle about 200,000 families to permanent housing sites in the next two or three years.
The displaced are housed in temporary shelters and bunkhouses while others live with relatives or in hastily erected shacks. About 300 families are still living in tents, but they could be moved to better — though still temporary — housing in the next few weeks, Soliman said.
Much has been accomplished since Haiyan hit on Nov. 8, 2013. Power, water and cellphone services are back and nearby Tacloban city throbs with life again.
"We're 60 to 70 percent back to where we were but there is still a lot to be done," Soliman said. "We need to work on the permanent shelters, repair of shelters and sustainable livelihood."
The hardest part, villagers say, is living with haunting memories of the storm.