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Typhoon Anniversary: Philippines Slowly Mends

George Thomas - CBN News Sr. International Correspondent

TACLOBAN, Philippines -- This weekend marks one year since a powerful super typhoon hit the Philippines, killing thousands. CBN News returned to the scene of the devastation to see firsthand how rebuilding efforts were coming along.

Charlie Cedeno was born in the city of Tacloban. The neighborhood he grew up in sits just a few hundred feet from the Philippine coast.

CBN News was there days after Typhoon Haiyan slammed into Cedona's coastal neighborhood. Footage shot from a small drone shows the massive damage the area sustained.

Eight thousand people died on November 8, 2013. Tacloban was hardest-hit, with 30,000 homes destroyed.

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Today many people are still living in tents because they have no houses to live in.

Michael Saoy is one of about 15,000 residents living in tents or makeshift homes. In the year since the storm, the government has managed to build only 50 new homes.

"It is still very hard and little has changed," Saoy told CBN News. "I'm looking for ways I can overcome my present situation, but the government is moving too slow."

Cedona is one of the more fortunate people because he has a new home. CBN Disaster Relief built transitional homes for 1,550 families, including him.

When the typhoon destroyed the company where he worked, CBN Disaster Relief hired him.

"I'm so happy because they gave us a house and gave me a job. I'm proud to be a part of an organization that really helps people," Cedona said.

There were about 16,000 businesses operating in Tacloban before Typhoon Haiyan hit. Today, about 7,000 of them are back in business.

One of those businesses is Calle Z Café, owned and operated by Jerry Ruiz.

The restaurant suffered a lot of damage from the storm, but two weeks after the typhoon hit, Ruiz decided to send a message to his city by opening for business.

"We were trying to set an example, trying to get the morale of everybody to get things back to normal," he told CBNNews.

This Saturday, which marks the one-year anniversary since the typhoon hit, Michael Dacatimbang will join neighbors and friends in remembering that fateful day.

Dacatimbang lost his mother in the typhoon and today she, along with 3,000 others, is being buried in a mass grave.

"It is very painful to know that she is here, but I cannot grieve forever," he said. "I have to try to move on in the midst of this storm."

City officials are putting the final names of the deceased on crosses before Saturday.

"The difficult part is that you are burying people and this weighs on our hearts, but it is our duty to create a sacred place that people can come and remember," Tacloban city official Antonio Valderrama said.

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