'Everything is gone' in Guiuan, tropical paradise forever transformed by typhoon

Story highlights

  • Super Typhoon Haiyan came ashore in Guiuan in the eastern Philippines
  • Days later, the community is largely cut off and in need of basic necessities
  • "It's total damage, 100% damage," community's mayor says
  • A military plane brings in rice and water, transports out injured

Situated where the Philippines meets the Pacific Ocean, Guiuan had the look and feel of a tropical paradise -- replete with surf camps, resorts and pristine white beaches. Its location on Samar Island's southeastern tip, in many ways, had been Guiuan's greatest blessing.

And now? It could be seen as its greatest curse.

READ: Typhoon Haiyan crushed town 'like giant hand from the sky'

When Super Typhoon Haiyan came ashore early Friday -- bringing sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph) -- it did so in Guiuan.

Buildings collapsed, palm trees snapped, shelters ceased to be. And with devastation came desperate needs for, as one Guiuan put it, "food, tents, everything."

Typhoon damage from the air
Typhoon damage from the air

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    Typhoon damage from the air

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Typhoon damage from the air 01:13
Family goes through ceiling to flee storm
Family goes through ceiling to flee storm

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    Family goes through ceiling to flee storm

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Family goes through ceiling to flee storm 01:09
Haiyan's track

As he noted: "Everything is gone."

READ: Typhoon creates health crisis in the Philippines

Guiuan was cut off from outside communication and many basic necessities until recently, when a C-130 military cargo plane flew over the ravaged area and landed at its small airport.

The aircraft's cargo bay was packed with supplies and Filipino troops.

Once there, where should they start to help? That's hard to say, admits Guiuan Mayor Christopher Gonzales, given the scale of what's happened. Almost all of his community's 50,000 people are now homeless, thanks to Haiyan.

"If you want to look at our municipality," Gonzales said, "it's total damage; 100% damage."

The troops don't waste any time, quickly unloading drinking water and bags of rice, as residents watch from a safe distance. Some troops stay to participate in search-and-rescue operations in a place where the death toll is still far from settled.

Within 20 minutes, the C-130 is back buzzing again. Its new load includes some people hurt by the storm, some with spinal injuries. Other more able-bodied people have found seats, hoping to get far from the misery that is likely to forever be associated with a place that many had considered paradise.

READ: How to help Typhoon Haiyan survivors