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Typhoon Haiyan, Ruin and Rescue in the Philippines; Officials As Many As 10,000 People Feared Dead After Massive Typhoon Strikes The Philippines

Aired November 11, 2013 - 20:00   ET



Anderson is in the Philippines. He's trying to fly into the hardest hit area, Tacloban City, but heavy rain right now is making it very hard for planes to land. The rain is part of the new tropical system arriving hard on the heels of the typhoon.

The storm left Tacloban in terrible, terrible shape, almost total devastation in much of the city. Nearly a quarter of a million people lived here, now entire neighborhoods are gone. Survivors filling the streets, bodies lining the sidewalk. There are bodies, in fact, everywhere.

What there isn't enough of is food and crucially drinkable water. Access into and out of Tacloban is extremely difficult. U.S. Marines are helping to make the airport capable of round-the-clock operations.

Efforts are under way as well to gain access to even more remote locations. American and British warships are steaming into the area including an American aircraft carrier.

Especially terrifying right now no one yet knows the full scope of the damage from this record-setting storm.

More from 360's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The terror of super typhoon Haiyan began with its winds. Gusts reaching up to 235 miles per hour, well above the threshold of a category 5 hurricane. All many can do is simply pray.

As millions brace themselves against Haiyan's winds and punishing rains, it is the storm surge that would cut the biggest path of destruction. Walls of water up to 20 feet high, engulfing entire neighborhoods.

The typhoon rages into the night. Dawn brings an eerie calm after the storm, and with it, the first glimpses of the full wrath of Haiyan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get international help to come here now. Not tomorrow, now. This is really, really like bad, bad, worse than hell.


KAYE: Worse than hell. Buildings are now mangled piles of wood and metal. Family members pick through debris in a desperate search for their loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not spoken to anyone who hasn't lost someone, a relative or close to them.

KAYE: Officials fear up to 10,000 people dead. The exact number made difficult to determine, not only because of the endless piles of debris that might hold bodies, but also because the Philippines is made up of thousands of islands. Many live in remote areas, only accessible by boat or by air.

Here, on Cebu island, the injured are being rescued by military chopper. But many other islands are still completely on their own.

One of the hardest hit areas is here in Tacloban, a massive ship hurled far inland shows the raw power of the typhoon. With thousands clamoring for food, water, and medical attention, authorities are forced to focus on the needs of the living, before turning to those who didn't survive.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Three days on since the storm itself, there are still bodies by the side of the road. Now we can't show you the faces of these bodies as it's just too graphic. You can -- you can still see the terror as the wave hits on the faces of these bodies.

KAYE: An estimated 620,000 people are homeless from the storm. The government, simply overwhelmed and calling on the international community for help. The U.S. military has now taken control of the airport in Tacloban and is flying in badly needed supplies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is almost the end of the world, our goal is, I must go out of this city.

KAYE: Three days after what's likely the strongest storm in recorded history, its full impact just starting to be discovered.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Some of the most terrifying footage you just saw came from the hotel where CNN's Andrew Stevens was reporting.

I want to quickly show you some more of those moments, what they were like, in this clip, the reporter became a rescuer.


ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (on camera): It's a relatively secure area, I think, where we are. It's a very substantial hotel and we are away from windows. But all around us you hear the sounds of windows breaking, you hear the sounds of large objects falling, crashing to the floor. And under foot, it is now just a deluge. And if you look behind me, I don't know if you can see it, the staircase behind me is now basically a waterfall.

(Voice-over): And then a torrent of black water began pouring into the hotel. The storm surge had begun. Within a few minutes it was at ground floor window. A panicked family now trapped in their room smashed the window and screamed for help. We managed to get the mother across to safety using a foam mattress and it immediately became clear the cause of her panic. Their daughter was severely disabled.

Storm chaser Josh Morgerman and I went back across to get the terrified girl to safety. And CNN producer Tim Schwarz helped rescue the rest of the family.


BLITZER: And Andrew Stevens is joining us now.

Andrew, your images during the typhoon, they are amazing to have been inside what may have been one of the strongest storms ever. So give our viewers around the world a little flavor of what it was like.

STEVENS: It is mind-numbing, Wolf. You're standing there and all around is just noise. It's like you have screaming winds. And they howl through the smashed glass, its constant smashing of glass, there's constant sort of large objects crashing down on your head, around the roof. There is flying debris everywhere. And a funny, strange white haze, it's the only way to describe it.

You look out the window when you can, when you think it's safe enough, and you see just a white haze and the trees are bent virtually horizontal. And you sit there and you're thinking, OK, I have done everything I can. I am in the -- one of the strongest buildings in this city. We are away from the windows. We are just going to hunker down now in the corridors.

We've got a lot of things around us. We've got things we've got to look after each other. We've got to look after our kit as well. I don't think any of us ever thought this was -- this could have possibly been the end. But when that storm surge came in, we're thinking just how high is this going to get, because one of our weather chasers, a regular contributor to CNN, James Reynolds, tells us -- he said his biggest concern was this storm was going to generate a big, big wave.

I mean, let's call it for what it is. It's a tsunami. That water level rising so quickly. And he did -- he said look, I haven't seen a storm like this in my life. There is just -- it is literally the perfect storm. And the way the storm surge came up, when it came up, when we think we'd just weather this in. And as we said in the report it didn't get much higher than getting near the first floor. But still it was certainly a worrying moment.

But, you know, sometimes, Wolf, you just sort of sit there, you tough that stuff out, you just wait for it to get better. And you hope like hell.

BLITZER: You know, Andrew, I know you traveled what? About 14 kilometers from the hotel you were hunkered down in to the airport where you are now. So what is it like, that trip? Because by all accounts the roads are just in terrible, terrible shape.

STEVENS: Yes, the roads are in terrible shape. The road -- and this is the road, this is the road. With a capital T. It's the road that is going to take supplies in by truck to where it is most needed.

As I said over the last 24 hours we came out yesterday. And -- you know, 40 kilometers, what's that? About 10 -- nine or 10 miles. Took us four hours, we were getting out and walking pretty regularly because the traffic just clogs, it snarls all the time. So getting relief on that road is going to be a long and painful process.

But the real really worrying issue for us, Wolf, is that we didn't see any relief trucks coming in. We -- there was no evidence that they're actually using the road. I don't know why, we haven't been able to get any answers to that. So it is choppers that are providing the lifeline at the moment. And choppers can only take so much in.

And I should say right now that it is -- it's just gone 10 past 9:00 in the morning. We've been up since the early hours. And none of us here have heard a chopper, a relief chopper take off to head to the city. We've had several C-130 flights coming in. We've even had commercial, a couple of commercial flights coming in, but nothing getting from here where I am into the city and that is where the relief is needed.

BLITZER: Yes, that is extremely depressing news, Andrew.

Making your way around Tacloban, the city, the past few days, the devastation is clearly enormous. Have you ever in all of your years seen anything like this?

STEVENS: No, I haven't, Wolf. And the storm devastation is just -- it's extraordinary. The images of this tsunami, the Asian tsunami of 2004 are the first and probably the best comparison to make, where entire villages have been shattered. Disappeared.

I remember that tsunami came ashore in several countries. I was talking to our producer, Tim Schwarz, who was in (INAUDIBLE), he was saying the devastation there -- he was saying it is reminiscent of what happened there. Of course you've got Fukushima as well. So it's on this sort of scale.

What we don't know yet, and like Sri Lanka and like Indonesia and like parts of Thailand in the tsunami, we just don't know how widespread, how big a scale this disaster is. This is a coastal strip. It goes on for several hundred kilometers, obviously, on the island. The storm was several hundred kilometers wide.

Obviously at the outer edge, this has got to be absolutely fine. But the closer you get in towards the eye wall the more vicious those winds and that storm surge is going to become. So we don't know. There is no information. We keep asking people, what are you hearing? No one is hearing anything.

I spoke to the president yesterday. And he, I don't know. We're sending people out, boots on the ground to find out what's going on. But just getting to those places is going to be a problem. There are roads opening further down the coast getting people up there. But not enough to really get the information that's so desperately needed quickly.

And Wolf, it is all about time now.

BLITZER: Time is clearly critical. Right now, Andrew Stevens, hold on for a moment. I want to bring in the man you just mentioned, the storm chaser who was with you during some of those most terrifying moments. James Reynolds. The camera was rolling and showed us how it unfolded.

Take a look at this.


JAMES REYNOLDS, STORM CHASER: OK. Guys, one more. Anymore in there? Two more. One more? We're good. Everyone? OK. I can feel electricity in the water, guys. My legs are tingling.


BLITZER: And James Reynolds is with us now.

James, amazing video, we saw you there in that video with your fellow storm chasers, some staff from CNN, rescuing people outside your hotel. Take us back to that moment when you realized you had to stop covering what was going on and start helping to save lives.

REYNOLDS: Wolf, it was a really sickening feeling. The screams, we could hear them even above the roar of the storm and the smashing of glass. Instantly knew that someone was in grave danger. And we could see just the desperation of the woman trapped in that hotel room. You know, smashing through the glass windows with her hands to try and get out. And that is when it was really a life-and-death situation.

My colleague, Mark, he went out to immediately try and go out to their assistance and ended up injuring himself. But luckily we -- the team, my colleagues and the CNN crew managed to find some flotation devices, a mattress, and extricate everyone from that specific hotel room. And I'm glad to report that in our hotel, no one died, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, I'm happy to hear that. You covered some 35 typhoons over your career and you say this is absolutely the most severe and appalling one you've ever been through. Is that right?

REYNOLDS: Absolutely, Wolf, when we were monitoring the storm before it hit Tacloban, we -- my team and I, we were just absolutely speechless at this -- the storm, how strong it was getting. You know it was at the extreme upper level threshold of a category 5 if it was in the Atlantic. It was -- it was a very, very frightening thing to witness, just from a scientific point of view. This will be a case study storm in the future. But obviously right now the focus is on the horrendous aftermath, the desperate people who are suffering beyond imagination in Tacloban right now and for the days to come, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Jim, you had to be rescued by military chopper, how desperate was the situation on the ground as you were all preparing to leave?

REYNOLDS: The situation was starting to, what I would say, escalate. In the immediate aftermath, I did get the sense that some people in a shell-shocked state didn't quite get the gravity of how severe it was. But in a situation like this as time goes on and people become hungrier and more desperate for water, the mood is only going to get more tense.

And obviously, not being on the ground there right now myself, but even just 36 hours it was a desperate situation. There was no sense of help, no sense of a concerted military presence or any aid getting in. And from what Andrew was saying it doesn't seem like much has changed in the following few days.

We were very fortunate to liaise with a military official who got us on a helicopter to the airport and from there, a military flight out. And that was -- that was very miraculous that we managed to do that, and also I think beneficial that we could get our pictures out of what the situation was like on the ground in Tacloban, Wolf.

BLITZER: James Reynolds, thanks very much. Andrew Stevens, thanks to you as well.

It doesn't seem possible that things could get worse in Tacloban, but they have in just the last hour or two, as we've been reporting, another storm is dumping more rain on the region tonight, and it's blocking relief and rescue efforts.

It's also keeping Anderson and his team from touching down in Tacloban. Their plane had to turn back and head back towards Manila. Anderson is joining us now from Manila from the airport there with more.

Anderson, I know it was tough trying to get into Tacloban, but at least you're back on the ground in Manila.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it was a really dicey situation as we tried to -- we were actually very close to Tacloban on a plane, and then got the word that we had to turn back because of the approaching storm. We're told there may be a little bit of a break in the weather. We may try to do it again to try to get in there really before the worst of the storm which is that we anticipate later tonight.

It is already Tuesday here, but obviously, any difficulty for planes to land in Tacloban, that has serious repercussions, serious consequences, for all those people on the ground who are just desperate for food and water and shelter.

I want to bring in Chad Myers at the CNN Severe Weather Center just to get a sense of where this approaching storm is and how bad it's going to be for the people here.

Chad, what's the latest on it?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, Anderson, I think this is all over in about six hours. The back edge of the storm right about here right now as it's passing on by. The problem that you had with your airplane was that you got into instrument flight rules. There are no instruments on the ground to send signals up to the airplane. So all of a sudden that MVFR, virtual flight rules day, turned into IFR day, and you couldn't land because you -- the instruments just aren't going to work because there's nothing transponding back up to your airplane.

You didn't have to go very far, couple of hundred miles at most. But that's the problem. When you got this cloud nest coming into your area, it covered up the airport, got the (INAUDIBLE) too low and they couldn't land for you here.

I do expect, though, probably in the next four or five hours, this is all over. I know we talked about approaching storm here, but approaching storm means leaving storm here in the next 12 hours. It will be gone by tomorrow morning. And that's the good news. It will still rain for a while. And, you know, it doesn't matter how much or how little rain, if you're trying to recover your life without a roof over your head, without fresh water to drink, without any power, any type of rain, any type of wind is just a nightmare.

COOPER: And you know, Chad, one of the things that was a blessing in this typhoon is the lack of heavy rain for a sustained period of time. But it really was the storm surge which people did not expect which has caused so much of this damage, right?

MYERS: Absolutely, you know, we had storm surges. I know that we probably were in the 16 to 20-foot storm surge range. And on the western most area of the eye, the eastern most island of the Philippines, I absolutely can tell there was a 30-foot surge that ran completely over that island, a lot like what happened in Hurricane Rita down near Galveston -- down here in Houston. And it just washed completely over the island, took everything with it. All the homes.

And, you know, we're showing Tacloban, and I understand, this is an urbanized city, 200,000 people live in the city. There are another couple hundred thousand that live in villages that got the same type of wind, the same type of water, the same type of surge, we haven't heard anything from them. We can't even get there. There are hundreds of thousands of people even in worse shape that the scenes we were showing. But we're there because that's where we can get. This is a story that will last for weeks, if not months. The survival, the recovery will take years if not decades.

COOPER: And I have been getting a lot of tweets from viewers around the world saying, you know, my relative is in this small place, in another small town, not in Tacloban, where there has been the focus, where journalists have been able to get the relief work.

But as you said, Chad, there are a lot of small outlying areas that have not been visited yet. And there's a lot of concern about the condition of the people in those areas. A lot -- frankly, we still do not know. The bottom line is, we don't know how many people have been killed by this typhoon. We simply do not have accurate numbers on that.

We have a lot more to cover all throughout this hour of our live coverage from here in the Philippines.

When we come back, we're going to take a look at the international relief effort and the efforts of groups like the Red Cross. The difficulty they are having just eve getting vehicles, getting trucks to cities like Tacloban. We'll be right back.



HANCOCKS: This is the Tacloban Convention Center. We're told by the locals that a lot of people came in here to try and protect themselves from the storm. But as you can see, the water reached the second story and the locals say that anyone that was on the ground floor not expecting this storm surge simply didn't make it.


KAYE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye. Anderson will be back with us momentarily.

Meanwhile, CNN's Paul Hancocks on the devastation in Tacloban. She joins us now from there -- Paula.

HANCOCKS: Well, Randi, it really is a desperate situation here and the weather is not making things any better. Consider you don't have a home, you may have lost relatives, and now you have to cope with torrential rain. So shelter is an immediate concern for those hundreds of thousands of people who are likely to have lost their home. And the weather is expected to get worse, as well.

Now hundreds of thousands of people, thousands of people are coming here to the airport to try and get out of this devastated area. There are military planes leaving. There are a couple of commercial planes leaving. And people are carrying everything that they possibly can, or everything that's left of their lives after the storm, and trying to leave the devastation behind.

Now we drove just a few kilometers down the road, the main road into the city -- the city itself. And this is obviously a crucial artery for the -- for the relief efforts. It's just been cleared. But it was shocking to us that three days on, three and a half days on there were still bodies lying by the side off the road. They had not been cleared at this point and many residents and survivors were coming up to us and saying, ask why they're not being cleared. They have to try and survive in the rubble of their homes and yet they have -- just outside bodies by the side of the road. So there is an immense amount of work to do here, just basically for the health reasons -- Randi.

KAYE: Paula, I'm curious what the security situation is like there and if there is any looting taking place that you've seen?

HANCOCKS: Well, we understand there was looting towards the beginning, just after this happened. Obviously desperate people will do desperate things. And the grocery stores were looted. People needed food and water. The pharmacies were looted. The Red Cross told us that they have no medicine because they can't go to the pharmacies. It's all gone. People took medicines they didn't necessarily need.

But they were desperate. And of course, there has also been other kind of looting. We understand there is a few hundred security personnel within the city itself now. The police we saw on Monday were setting up checkpoints along that route as people desperate for food and water, when they saw a truck laden with food and water, were jumping on board and grabbing what they could.

So they have police protection now. But this isn't a violent situation. It is the fact that people are desperate to get food and water. And it's not getting to everybody who needs it. It's getting to the airport but there's a real bottleneck through trying to take it to those people in the more remote areas. And even in the center of the city where a quarter of a million people live, and it's just not getting there quickly enough at this point -- Randi.

KAYE: And Paula, this is certainly familiar territory for you. Not necessarily there, but you have covered disasters around the world. How does this one compare?

HANCOCKS: It was interesting, as soon as I landed and came through the airport which has just been decimated, you can see the destruction around me. It looked exactly like a tsunami had run through here.

Let me just show you some of the destruction. You can see many of the people just arriving now. One man said a very interesting thing to me. He said if the government had warned us that this was going to be like a tsunami and used the word tsunami, we would have gotten out of town. We would have evacuated. But what they warned us, was that it would have been a storm surge.

People don't understand what a storm surge can do. They don't realized how deadly it can be. So he said if the word tsunami had been used, he believes more people would have evacuated -- Randi.

KAYE: Paula, thanks very much.

And now we want to get you back to Anderson who is in Manila -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Randi, as Paula was saying, so many people, you know, they have been through typhoons before, but it was that storm surge which brought walls of water through Tacloban that really surprised a lot of people and moved an awful lot of debris. We've got to remember when there is so much water moving at such a great speed, there is a lot of debris in that water.

A lot of people died, a lot of people got injured from debris hitting them in the water as they're trying to -- trying to stay from -- prevent themselves from getting swept away.

I want to bring in Richard Gordon, who is CEO and chairman of the Philippines' Red Cross.

Richard, in terms of the difficulties of getting aid to people in Tacloban right now, what is the hardest part for you?

RICHARD GORDON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PHILIPPINE RED CROSS: The heavy lifting of goods that are needed like a lot of food. Water, filtration plants, trucks, this heavy, heavy goings, it's hard going. And we're almost there, but hopefully we'll make it by today. We started two nights ago. Hopefully we'll be there. We came by land from Manila. And another group is out in the other province on its way there. And it will carry 25,000 food parcels to our people.

COOPER: I understand that one of your trucks with aid actually had to turn around because of security concerns. What happened?

GORDON: That is correct. They were stopped at the bridge. The moment you stop right now people are going to mill around. Any helicopter, any truck that stops or lands are going to be surrounded by people who are in need. And that is why we have to have strong measures by the authorities to ensure that humanitarian services and goods are delivered to the area they would be very much needed. And it would be really great if they can move faster.

COOPER: How concerned are you about the rain that's coming today, just adding to people's misery there?

GORDON: We are very concerned because the land may be saturated with water and you may have landslides or flash floods. I'm not very much concerned about storm surges, but nonetheless, you made a very good point about storm surges because they have to understand what it is all about. It's not a -- mini tsunami, but we're not worried about that at the moment but we need to know that any typhoon could turn for the worse and have landslides or floods.

So we're very concerned about that. In fact, I'm trying to find out whether we can still go through in spite of that typhoon.

COOPER: And Richard, in terms of people wanting to donate, wanting to help, what kind of things does the Red Cross need most? Is it just -- simply a matter of money?

GORDON: Well, it is easier if it is money, but you know, if they want to donate, we'll take it in kind. But there is always you know, the sorting it out and bringing it over there. They could be better off bringing it in Cebu, we have a Red Cross warehouse in Cebu, but they could find an organization, would be a very good web site to do so.

COOPER: Richard Gordon, I know you're busy. I appreciate the time you took to talk with us. No doubt we'll check with you throughout the coming days. We'll take a quick break. When we come back we'll talk to the mayor of Tacloban and find out about the situation as the new storm approaches. We'll be right back.


COOPER: And welcome back to our live coverage here of Typhoon Haiyan. I'm Anderson Cooper reporting live from Manila. We're supposed to be in Tacloban for this broadcast, but our plane had to turn around at the last minute due to some severe weather that moved into the area. So we're broadcasting from the airport here in Manila.

We're just now starting to get a lot of the details of how people actually survived this storm. There are some remarkable stories. The mayor of Tacloban, Alfred Romualdez, joins me now. And frankly, Mr. Mayor, from everything I have heard you are very lucky to be alive. I understand you at one point had to punch holes and climb onto the roof of your house. What happened?

MAYOR ALFRED ROMUALDEZ, TACLOBAN, PHILIPPINES: Actually, it was not the house. It was beside my house. There was a big ball room and the ceiling was about 20 feet high, and the next thing we knew that we were just -- when the waves came in, it just brought us up. And our -- we had no choice, but to punch a hole in the ceiling and hide between the ceiling and the roof. And the waves were breaking in the roof.

The place was a resort, and it is like a ball room so it is a huge roof and a tall roof, and the waves just came so fast. And -- but worse than that was the wind, the wind was just so strong that the visibility was about ten or 15 feet. Just no way you could even look because it was so strong that it practically pulled out your eyes. It was the first time we ever experienced that. You couldn't see anything and there was just howling winds.

COOPER: In terms of how your city is right now, there have been -- estimates of different death tolls. Explain -- do you have any sense of fatalities in your city, and people who are wounded? Do you have any numbers?

ROMUALDEZ: Well, the numbers that we've seen, physically that we have retrieved is about 250 bodies already, but we can now only search more with -- with -- with some smell. You know, with the smell because a lot of bodies were mixed up with all the rubble and all the debris. And we are getting reports also of some houses that were buried and we see some bodies floating.

And these are the things that we're trying -- the stuff that you're trying to do to retrieve right now. But accessibility is a problem in some areas because debris is scattered all over and it is very difficult to get into some of these places.

COOPER: What are the greatest needs of people there in Tacloban right now, food, water, shelter?

ROMUALDEZ: Yes, food, water and shelter are the greatest needs right now. Earlier, it was -- because Tacloban is a city written it is by practice that every time there is a storm in the region or in the area they take shelter in Tacloban City. And when this thing happened, they were all stranded in Tacloban City, but the first day we were able to open the roads.

And the only accessibility was through the airport. So there was an exodus of people leaving Tacloban City and the following day we were able to open the main arteries going out of the city where a lot of people started to leave. Because they saw that there was no water and there was no food and they had no choice but to try to leave because the relief efforts were not really enough.

And because it was just starting because we were paralyzed here in the city government, and only about -- out of 300 policemen, only less than 30 were able to make it, showed up and many are still missing. Even our own city government, we're about 1,300 strong. And only less than a hundred reported because everything is damaged even all the vehicles.

That is why it paralyzed us and we could hardly move and it was all by foot and all through volunteers that we were able to recover many bodies and we are able to do many rescues.

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Mayor, thank you very much. Thank you very much for your time this evening. We certainly hope that you get what you need there in Tacloban. We will return to Anderson as soon as we can there in manila.

Meanwhile, the massive effort in the Philippines to rescue and get the food and water to those that need it continues. We will speak to a woman coming up next who is searching desperately for her parents there. We'll find out what she knows next.


COOPER: Welcome back. I'm Anderson Cooper reporting live. The sound you hear is a helicopter taking off about 60 feet from me. I'm at the hangar at Manila Airport. We were headed for Tacloban earlier. We had to turn around due to bad weather in the area. We're talking about -- it was very close to the airport here, in Manila.

I want to bring in a woman whose parents live in Tacloban. Her parents live in the Philippines. Jacqueline, you first talked --

JACQUELYN BRANSCOMB, PARENTS STUCK IN HOME IN TACLOBAN: I have not been able to hear from my parents personally and our family has not actually heard from them personally. But we have word that we -- that they found them. They were in Tacloban City during the whole storm and I just got an update that my parents made it to another town, that they just left Tacloban somehow to get to another town because of the smell and their health issues.

KAYE: And Jacqueline, this is Randi Kaye in New York. I'm going to try to pick this up as we establish our communication with Anderson there in Manila. But your biggest concern is about your mother's health. What was it about her health?

BRANSCOMB: Yes, a few days before they left to go to the Philippines, they left Chicago on October 31st. But a few days before that, she had to go to the hospital, she has COPD and also had had some sort of an infection so she had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days.

My main concern is that she is not able to walk around, get around on her own without a wheelchair. There is concern about other asthma. One of the worries is because of her medications. She needed to get her nebulizer, to get her breathing treatments and with the lights out, we don't know the situation, if she is OK or not.

KAYE: So you and your sisters, from what I understand they're trying to get them out and get them back to the states. How do you plan to do that?

BRANSCOMB: Right now, we don't know. We have been trying to contact -- plastering news all over Facebook and Twitter, whatever family and friends we have. We just are trying to find a way to get them to a place where they can fly out from either Cebu or to Manila. I have a sister that has flown to Manila. Her plan originally was to stay in Tacloban for the next six months, but with all this that happened we're trying to get my parents out somehow, we don't know yet.

KAYE: So tell me about this community that you know and that you love. You attended grade school there in Tacloban. You recently returned for your mother's birthday. So help us understand Tacloban.

BRANSCOMB: Yes, when I was there, I lived there in 1992 and 93, first and second grade. And first, it was very foreign for me, because I was just a child, but I have grown to love that place. My family is there. My cousins are there. It just seemed like home. I went to school there. My sister graduated from high school there.

At first -- it is definitely not like manila, not as developed as Manila, but when I went back there the past two years, the technology has developed. The cell phone usage is high, the establishment is growing. It just seemed like it was really growing.

KAYE: Keep us posted, please, Jacqueline. All right, let's get back to Anderson in Manila -- Anderson.

COOPER: Hi, Randi, obviously it is difficult broadcasting under these services so I appreciate you stepping in every time our signal goes down. We want to check on areas the size of Tacloban. Tacloban, as everybody knows by now is a city of some 200,000 people. And a lot of other region, towns, we'll check with our correspondent in Cebu to find out how the situation is there. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of Haiyan, in Manila, we have been focusing a lot on Tacloban, actual death toll we don't have the number that we can give you that we can accurately tell how many people have passed away. The hospital in that city has been overwhelmed.

For a time they were not even able to accept new patients, giving basic first aid to people, trying to get as many people as they could out of there. We also have a correspondent, Anna Coren, in Cebu, which is about a 30-minute flight from Tacloban. She has been talking to a lot of people there. There is a lot of lost of there. A lot of people still missing. Here is some of what you said.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This air field in Cebu has become the staging ground for the country's biggest relief operation. C-130 Hercules flying survivors, all shell-shocked by what they saw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot say anything yet, I am still shocked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot people were dead. Our friends are dead, some of our family members are dead. So it is really devastating.

COREN: As the death toll grows by the day, families desperately wait for news of their loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the only survivor of the family, and I want to know if they are still alive.


COOPER: So many people frankly just do not have the information. Communication is spotty, at best and a lot of areas have not even been gotten into by government officials, by relief agencies. Anna Coren joins us now from Cebu. How are things there today, Anna? What is the situation?

COREN: Well, Anderson, the relief operation happening now, the largest plane, a Russian plane has just landed from China, pack-filled with aid. Of course, we know that the people on the ground in the disaster zones desperately need food, clean water, medical supplies and shelter.

Now, several C-130 Hercules planes have also landed there to pick up aid and to take it to the areas, as well. Obviously, the weather is a real problem, you have experienced it yourself. But certainly here, it has been raining and that could slow down the operation. It is certainly going to help the relief efforts, but also it will cause misery on the ground -- Anderson.

COOPER: In terms of you know, you talked to a whom who is still searching for her family members. In terms of actually recovery efforts, is there heavy equipment on the ground, or how are people actually you know, searching through rubble?

COREN: Yes, looking at the moment, I think the focus is on getting them aids and supplies. We were going into the fifth day since the typhoon hit the islands. Yesterday, the military went to Northern Cebu into some really remote islands. And they were picking up the wounded, the injured, ferrying them back, people with broken bones and internal injuries.

And this was just a handful. As we flew back to Cebu, there were people on their homes, properties, waving frantically into the air. But the problem, Anderson, is logistics, getting the help out to the people who so desperately need it.

COOPER: Still so much work to be done in the days ahead. Anne, appreciate your reporting, stay safe. We'll take a break from our coverage from the Philippines. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. I'm Anderson Cooper reporting live from Manila. We'll be back an hour from now, another edition of "AC360" on the latest on the recovery efforts happening in places large and small in the islands in the Philippines, particularly, the islands, Tacloban and Cebu, and other outlying communities that they have not even gotten to yet. Still a lot of people, still suffering, we'll have more on that at 10:00, one hour from now. Right now, Piers Morgan joins me live -- Piers.