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Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Released; Disaster in Philippines

Aired November 13, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Anderson Cooper reporting tonight from Tacloban in the Philippines.

It is Thursday morning here, 9:00 a.m., and a new day has begun. In the last several hours, there have been some significant developments to tell you about. Yesterday, I talked to the Marine Brigadier General Paul Kennedy, who promised he would be able to get this airport, the runway, up and running on a 24-hour basis.

He's fulfilled that promise, along with Air Force personnel who were here on the ground. Last night, for the first time, aircraft were coming in during the nighttime hours, able to land and off-load supplies.

We have actually seen an uptick in aid along the side of the runway from USAID, from the Malaysian government, from other places, food aid medical supplies, and tarps that people can use for shelter. The problem is getting it out from here at the airport to the surrounding communities that are in such desperate need.

And it's not just a question of communities far away. I'm talking about communities that are half-a-mile from here, even a clinic here at the airport. People come up to you all the time. Look at all the people milling around here at the airport. They many times -- they come here every day desperate to get on some sort of a flight out of here. They don't have food, they don't have water.

And you would think that the one place with supplies coming in here, the one place it would be easy to distribute water or food to people would be here at the airport. But there are people begging us for water, just little sips of water. I want to show you what we saw at a clinic several hours ago, a clinic that's been set up here at the airport, a clinic that's simply overwhelmed. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): It's like this every day now. In this overcrowded clinic at Tacloban Airport, there are too many people, not enough supplies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a little bit chaotic because...

COOPER (on camera): It looks very chaotic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. As you can see, we don't have any medicines. We don't have any supplies. We have I.V. fluids, but it's running out. And most of the people here doesn't have water and food. That's why they come here. Most of the kids are dehydrated. Most of them are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting.

COOPER (voice-over): Dr. Katrina Catavae (ph) has been here for three days. It feels much longer.

(on camera): What do you need here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mostly need food and water. That's the most important supplies that we need for all the people.

COOPER: So you don't even have enough food and water for the sick people coming?


COOPER (voice-over): More people just keep coming in.

Captain Lelanlol Abagnol (ph) stitches up a man injured in the typhoon. Used bandages lie in a pile on the floor. Nearby, a member of the Philippine military reads names off a list of those who get to be evacuated today.

(on camera): So who gets to be evacuated right away? What makes someone eligible?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, like the elderly, the children that are sick.

COOPER (voice-over): For some, the wait is too long. This man died last night. He lies on a gurney at the end of the hall. They have no place else to put him.

A mother plays with her child, and in a tiny side room, three babies have been born in the last three days.

(on camera): It's a very beautiful baby.


COOPER: I know. He's very beautiful.

(voice-over): A healthy baby boy named Haiyan, named for a storm he will know nothing about.


COOPER: Not only is the boy's name Haiyan for the storm. His middle name is Daniel, which is the name of the airport, I'm told. So his mother named him after both the storm and the place where he was born.

Imagine being born in this place amid this catastrophe. There are Americans here who have been trying to get out. I want to introduce you to Rick Stanford, who we just met at the airport.

You are hoping to get out today.

RICK STANFORD, STRANDED AMERICAN: Yes, we are. We're trying to get up to Manila for tonight and maybe move up to the Pampanga area, where we have some friends that -- who could help us relocate over there.

COOPER: You're retired. you Have been living here just for the last couple of months. How has it been the last few days? What have you seen out there?

STANFORD: It's turning into absolute chaos. As soon as the food runs out and the water runs out, people are going to get desperate. We have had gunfire in our neighborhood. We have had reports of NPA trying to take over the town. So it's only going to get worse, until somebody gets over here and gives us a hand.

COOPER: You talk about the lack of food, the lack of water, once it runs out. Have you seen large-scale relief efforts via government officials handing out water, handing out food?

STANFORD: Absolutely not.

COOPER: You were just saying the security situation is deteriorating, from what you saw.


We went to the pier. My wife's family is in an island called Talalora. And they were bringing in some fresh water for us. And my wife and I were riding our bike back, and we got into a street and all of a sudden a mob of people are running towards us. And we have gunshot going off. And...

COOPER: Do you understand why it's so hard to get water, why it's so hard to get food? You're having relatives bring you water from another island. There are planes coming in. Have you been able to talk to anybody on the Philippine side about what the holdup is?

STANFORD: It's -- what I have heard is supplies will come in and you will have a mob of people going in there and taking them.

So it's not being distributed. There's not enough security here to keep the people in line. We need that. And we need to get some sort of generators going so that we can get some fresh water going, get some fuel so that people can move back and forth.

COOPER: What was it like for you when you finally arrived here at the airport with your family and you saw U.S. Marines here?

STANFORD: Oh, you're going to make me cry on this one. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. God bless the USA.

When I saw those American flags on those uniforms, I knew that we were going to be taken care of. And the first thing they said, you're a U.S. citizen. You're our first priority. And thank God for that. But, if I could say something, I wish that the U.S. Embassy would do something for us expats who have wives that are Philippine citizens to help us get them to the United States. We have no place to live here, and we need to get back to the U.S., and they need to be able to expedite some sort of visas or something to get...


COOPER: Also, it's got to be shocking for you when you look and you see the hundreds of Philippine citizens who are lined up, been lined up for days, and it's very slow for them to get out.


And what's even worse is going through the town and seeing people just sitting on the side, knowing that they have no place to go. The hope is just fading from them. So they really need to have -- the government, the Philippine government needs to step it up and do something to help them. And I know the United States will, because the United States is always the first one in there to help a country.

COOPER: Rick, I appreciate it. I'm glad your family is safe.

STANFORD: Thank you so much.

COOPER: I'm glad you're getting out. Take care. My best to your family.

Again, I cannot emphasize how frustrating it is for residents here, for Philippine citizens to be standing at this airport for hours and hours, no -- without getting water, without getting food. And that's the frustration. They want to know, why can't we have some water? Why can't we have something here?

Paula Hancocks has been covering this disaster from the beginning.

I understand that the -- you talked to the Philippine -- the interior minister, who was here on the ground. And he was upset with me, I understand.


He came here about midnight last night whilst we were still working. And he said that he was upset by a tweet that he thought you had sent saying that there is no presence of government. Apparently, this had been picked up by the local media and was made into a big story.

COOPER: What did the tweet allegedly say? There's no presence of the government. I never said that, nor have I been able to send out any tweets because there's no cell service here. The show sent out a tweet based on something I said, which was -- and I think you would probably agree with this -- that I have seen very little large- scale Philippine military in the surrounding areas. There's Philippine military here at the airport and there are some roadblocks in the town. But in terms of like a grid-by-grid search, a street-by-street search for any survivors or even those who have died, I haven't seen any searches. Have you?

HANCOCKS: No, I have seen no systematic search for survivors, I mean, not to say that it didn't happen at different areas, but I personally have not seen that up.

All I have seen is the recovery of bodies at this point. But what the interior minister was saying is what the government has been saying all along, that the local government, the local infrastructure was wiped out. So the first-responders that would usually deal with this kind of crisis were the victims themselves.

So this is really what they have been trying to hammer home to people, which is why they believe that the issue is in the media that it may have been a little slow. But they're very sensitive to people saying this is slow. But you have got to say what you see.

COOPER: I don't mind being criticized for something I actually said. But, obviously, I did not say that.

But I will say -- and you hear it from all the residents here -- they don't understand why a mother who's lost six children and who's only found three of their bodies, why she has to search all by herself, why some military or police assets can't be used, as they were in Japan after the tsunami, to search block by block, to even look for any survivors.

I know that early on the government said, our emphasis is on the survivors, not recovering the dead. But there could have been people trapped alive under rubble. And unless there's an organized search, which I haven't seen -- and, again, just in this area -- lives could have possibly been saved.

HANCOCKS: And absolutely.

And this is -- in many natural disasters that we have covered, this is what you see right at the beginning. You see the desperate look for the survivors. But it has been on an individual basis. It's been, as you say, the mother looking for her children.

The one thing that the interior minister said as well when I asked him, look -- look around you. There are so many people desperate to get out. This is a chaotic situation. He quoted Katrina to me and said, other countries have problems as well.

Now, of course, I pointed out, that is not something you want to aspire to. You want to do better. You want to make sure that there is a better response. He said that no response would be good enough.

COOPER: I just want to clarify, I did not tweet saying that there was no government presence, because, obviously, there is. There are soldiers around. But, in terms of organized large-scale efforts out in this community, I just haven't seen it, nor have -- everybody I have talked to who's searching for their dead children or dead husbands or dead wives, they said they haven't received help in the search.

We have got to take a quick break. We are going to have a lot more on the aid effort. And, again, there has been an uptick in aid arriving here at the airport.

And, also, I went out with Marines on an Osprey to a nearby island about 30-minute flight from here to assess the situation. I went out there with a captain from the Philippine navy. You will meet him ahead.

We will be right back.


COOPER: And welcome back. We're live in Tacloban.

That sound you hear is a Philippine air force C 130 that's landed. Supplies are being off-loaded. And they're going to be able to take out a number of Philippine citizens, who have, many of them, camped out here for days in some case, but certainly overnight and are very eager to get on that flight because of the security situation, the lack of food and water.

There's a lot more to tell you about here. And we are seeing pockets of hope and improvement, a more organized effort to recover bodies, to recover the dead and get them off the streets.

But, first, I want to go to Wolf Blitzer in Washington with the latest domestic news -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, thanks very much. We will get back to you shortly.

But there is breaking news we're following here. This was the moment critics of the Affordable Care Act have been predicting, supporters of it had been dreading, the Obama administration now releasing enrollment numbers. For the first month of the operation, about 79,000 people enrolled through the state exchanges and about 26,000 through the government's what we call a mess of a Web site,, still a mess.

That's far lower than the half-million the Obama administration was expecting. Difficulties with the site and the controversy over President Obama's pledge that Americans could keep existing policies really came to a head today. Key Democratic lawmakers signed onto plans to alter the law.

Others had what's being described as a turbulent meeting with White House officials. Meantime, a Republican-led House committee grilled some of the Obama administration's tech people responsible for, a lot happening.

Our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, watching it unfold up on Capitol Hill.

Dana, these hearings today, members of the administration getting sharply grilled by lawmakers. But did we find out much that we didn't already know?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A few things, but it was mostly very, very partisan, maybe part of the reason why Congress' approval rating is 9 percent right now.

But the two things I think are important to take away is, one, that the Web site is still running at less than half of the intended capacity that the White House intended. So that is not very good news. The other is that the chief information official from the White House who testified says that there is no guarantee that they are actually going to meet the deadline or at least the goal that the White House has to get the Web site fully functional by the end of the month.

So those are two not-great pieces of news, given the fact that these numbers we saw in enrollment today were very low, in large part because of the Web site's problems, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, that Web site is just one of the problems. There's frustration clearly among a lot of Democrats, and they brought White House officials to Capitol Hill today for some closed-door meetings to deal with these Democrats. They will be back again tomorrow, I'm told. So what's this all about?

BASH: That's right.

Look, this is a big, big issue that many members of Congress, especially Democrats, are hearing about from their constituents, that being that they're getting cancellation letters, they're getting calls saying that the policy that they do like, they can't keep, which, of course, as we have reported, was a promise that the president made.

So what Democrats are hoping for is for the White House to give them some kind of sense of a fix, something that they can take to their constituents and say, look, we're dealing with this, we're addressing this.

There will be a meeting on Capitol Hill with White House officials, including, I'm told, the White House chief of staff, on the Senate side to talk about this. Again, on the House side today, there was a very contentious meeting, members of Congress saying you have got to help us. You have got to give us something, and the White House saying, we're working on it. But it's a very difficult issue for them to figure out. It is not, not easy at all to figure out how to get these health policies back up and running after they have already been canceled because they need to meet the requirements for the new Obamacare law.

BLITZER: Yes, a lot of these Democrats who are up for reelection next year especially worried. Dana, thanks very much.

Just a little while ago, I spoke with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. These days, he chairs the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. He's the vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. But back when the Affordable Care Act was being formulated, he was a top adviser to the president.


BLITZER: If these numbers remain this dismal, 26,000, the model, it's not going to work, because you need healthy young people enrolling in order to get the system to work.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Correct. You need a wide swathe of the population to create a pool. Absolutely agreed.

But this is not a technical problem that is insuperable. It will work at some point. And, further, I do think lots of people, as we have seen the numbers of people who want insurance is high. I do think this is going to be a solvable problem.


COOPER: Dr. Emanuel also said he thought President Obama had kept his promise about Americans keeping their existing policies, something not even the president fully claims any longer.

Let's discuss what's going on. Want to bring in a pair of Democrats who differ somewhat when it comes to the problems of the Affordable Care Act, the Daily Beast special correspondent and City University of New York professor of journalism and political science Peter Beinart, and CNN political commentator, the Democratic strategist Paul Begala, also our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Gloria, these numbers that were released today, pretty dismal, aren't they?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. They're very dismal. I think they're evidence of a complete failure, breakdown of this Web site.

The White House was lowballing us and saying you're going to see some low figures. They were right. They were lower than we even anticipated. So I think this is a complete failure. They're trying to say, as Zeke Emanuel just said to you, look, there's a great deal of interest out there. And they're right about that.

There were 26 million people at one point or another who clicked onto the Web site. There were over a million who tried to enroll. So if they can get this fixed, maybe they can get it going. But right now, they have got a president, people are questioning his competency, his honesty and his credibility.

BLITZER: And, Paul, the president's approval numbers are really going south right now only in the last couple of weeks. You could only imagine if the Republicans wouldn't have pushed for a government shutdown where those numbers would be right now, given the performance of the Obamacare Web site. So what does he do?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he's got to fix it. He's got to muscle through this. And he's got to get it right.

This is one of those deals where we are almost exactly a year past his reelection and a year away from the next midterm. If you're going to crater, I guess this is as good a time as any. But he's got to get it right. This is where the good policy will lead to good politics. Everybody needs to calm down.

I have to say, honesty compels me to say if they'd signed up a million or two million, I would be crowing. The fact that they have signed up like 1.5 percent of their goal, I got to eat crow. But it also doesn't mean that this thing is fatal or there's no recovery. A few weeks ago, I was saying, oh, the shutdown means the Republicans can't win in 2014. Now the Republicans are saying, well, the glitches in the Web site mean the Democrats can't win in 2014.

The truth is we don't know what the hell is going to be deciding the 2014 races. Now we ought to just all just like take a chill pill. Is that covered by health care, by the way.


BLITZER: Almost a year.

Peter, one of the big problems the president has, a whole bunch of Democrats -- forget about the Republicans for a moment -- a whole bunch of Democrats seemingly ready to abandon him as far as the health care is concerned.

PETER BEINART, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. I think that's really the big story of the last couple of days, potentially a bigger problem than the Web site itself, because the political move that the Democrats, especially Democrats worried about reelection in 2014, want is to be able to tell people that they can keep their plans.

But you start pulling at one thread in this whole Obamacare system and the whole thing starts to fall apart, because there's a reason that people weren't allowed to keep those plans. These people need to go onto the exchanges. Remember, the exchanges only work if you have young and healthy people entering the exchanges, too.

So you keep those people out of the system and allow them to keep their plans, and you probably don't have a lot of young, healthy people willing to try eight, 10, 12 hours to get on this Web site. So already the people who are signing up are probably the older and the sicker, and the entire economic basis of this exchange system starts to collapse. That's a really big problem.

BORGER: Well, that's really why the administration is saying to Democrats, hold on, kind of like Paul, saying Democrats, hold on. We want to try and do some kind of an administrative fix, because if you do a legislative fix, like some of these Senate Democrats want to do who are up for reelection, and if you do it legislatively, then you're essentially undermining Obamacare, because your saying to these individuals, OK, you can keep your policy.

And if you can keep your policy, you're not going to buy into that risk pool. And if you don't buy into that risk pool, the whole paradigm collapses, falls apart, and undermines the very program that Democrats really fought so hard to promote.

BLITZER: One number that really jumped out at all of us today, Paul, was the number of people whose health insurance policies were canceled in California alone. One million people lost their health insurance. They got to now find other health insurance, eventually might be better policies, might be even a little cheaper if they get subsidies. But, still, one million people losing their health insurance in California, that's a significant number.

BEGALA: It is. But I think it breaks up into three subgroups. One is, a lot of these policies in the individual market are annual anyway. And so they're canceled every year no matter what. No Obamacare, a lot of people would still be getting cancellations.

Second, there's a group of them who have policies that aren't worth the paper they're written on. They call them health care policies, but it's nonsense. It is like we can't buy an airplane ticket on an airplane that's got maybe got a rubber band and a propeller and a 1982 Volkswagen engine. There are certain standards that have to be met.

There is a third group though where a lot of these people really do think they have pretty good plans, and they will lose out. And for the reasons Peter and Gloria are talking about, we need them in the Obamacare pool. But it's really -- you're getting down to actually a pretty small percentage, a lot of people. It's a big country. But at most, you're talking about 2 to 5 percent.


BORGER: It's millions of people. And the worst part is, of course, Paul, as you know, is nobody wants to be surprised. When their president told them one thing and they say, OK, that's great, that's good to know, and then they're surprised and find their policies are canceled, whether they're lousy policies or not, it's bad.

BEGALA: Absolutely.

BEINART: Those people also tend to be more politically vocal and articulate than -- this is the basic political problem with essentially economic redistribution, which is what this is.

It's basically -- the people who are really benefiting tend to be poorer people who are getting onto Medicaid, for instance, now or sicker and poor people. But those people are not going to have as much political weight as the people who are starting to squawk and write their members of Congress. And you're seeing that with Democrats revolting, not just conservative Democrats, but Democrats like Dianne Feinstein in California.

BLITZER: All right, Peter, thanks very much.

Peter Beinart, Paul Begala, Gloria Borger, good discussion.

Up next, we will have some more breaking news, new scandalous accusations about Toronto's crack-smoking mayor.

But, first, let's go back to Anderson Cooper. He's in Tacloban in the Philippines, where the devastation continues -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wolf, sorry, I -- very strange to hear about the crack- smoking mayor when you're over here.

We -- when we come back, we're going to also take you out to a surrounding area, an island. That's been one of the concerns about what's happening in some is of these very hard-to-reach areas. I'm going to go out with Marines and a Philippine captain from the navy to assess the situation on an island about 30 minutes from here.

We will be right back.



COOPER: It is grim and thankless work for these firefighters. They often get sick while they're doing it. But frankly, it has to be done. It's gotten to the point now where the smells in Tacloban are overwhelming. The smell of death, the smell of decay.

There's simply not enough body bags to go around, say local officials. Firefighters have been brought in to do the work. Military personnel, as well. But there hasn't been a centralized, organized effort to remove the bodies. That does now seem to be increasing just in the last day or so.

Here there's one, two, three, four, five, six -- six people, two dogs, and over here there's another one, two, three, four, five, six, seven people and a dog that have been bagged. And this is just one block in Tacloban. It's like this block after block. You find bodies just about everywhere.


COOPER: And that is the grim reality of life here in Tacloban these days. We're going to take you out with U.S. Marines, Philippine navy personnel, to an island to assess another town that's been hard hit to see what the needs there are. But first I want to go back to Wolf Blitzer in D.C. -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, thanks very much. We're anxious to get your additional reports. But there is some breaking news we're following here.

Toronto's embattled mayor now facing even more allegations of drug and alcohol abuse and erratic behavior. This comes after a tense city council meeting today at Toronto where the mayor, Rob Ford, admitted he bought illegal drugs in the past two years while in office. Just last week he also admitted to smoking crack cocaine. Paula Newton joins us from Toronto with the breaking news.

Paula, tell our viewers what happened.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as if this story couldn't get any more salacious, just hours ago new information released from court, information that had been secret before, that Mayor Rob Ford allegedly was doing prescription drugs, other kinds of drugs, was on a binge-drinking evening in 2012 on St. Patrick's night that he drove drunk and that he may have been with an escort.

All of these are details, Wolf, that were alleged by his own staff members when they were interviewed by police.

But Wolf, really, what kind of a day it's been here at city hall. So many people saying that they have never seen anything like it. It was like tuning into a reality show. Take a look.


ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: I'm answering. But you don't want to hear my answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, you're not being truthful. That's my problem.

R. FORD: I'm not being truthful? Have you been into that house?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no interest in being in that house. I'm not a crack user.

NEWTON (voice-over): Many in Toronto would say the nickname is unfair. But Cracktown lived up to its billing as its mayor, Rob Ford, made confession after confession as he faced an inquisition from city counselors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you purchased illegal drugs in the last two years?

R. FORD: Yes, I have.


NEWTON: And on it went. A veritable public intervention that put Mayor Ford on the spot and on the couch. This one is from one of his allies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, do you recognize there are a few of us that really do want to help you?

R. FORD: Councilor, it was not -- the reason I drank or did drugs was not because of stress. It was out of sheer stupidity. That's all it was. So I'm not going to blame something. I'm not going to use an excuse or a cop-out. I take full responsibility for my mistakes. I don't know what else I can say. NEWTON: Councilors wanted to hear "I resign." But on it went for several more uncomfortable hours.

R. FORD: There's nothing more to say, guys. I really F'd up and that's it.

NEWTON: It didn't matter what he said. Federal councilors voted overwhelm rig for the mayor to take a leave. But the truth is, the vote didn't matter, either. No one can legally force the mayor to quit.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Doug Ford, the mayor's big brother, says no way. The mayor is staying put, calling fellow councilors a bunch of hypocrites.

DOUG FORD, TORONTO CITY COUNCILOR/ROB FORD'S BROTHER: Everybody has faced it, and they're willing to forgive. They aren't willing to forgive Rob Ford.

NEWTON (on camera): They would if he stepped down.

D. FORD: Why should he step down? Again, let the people decide.




NEWTON (voice-over): Outside, a few thousand protesters made it clear they have decided the mayor can't stay on the job.

(on camera): Do you have any power to stop it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are we going to stop it? In any way we can. By any legal means necessary. And we're going to keep pressure up until he's gone. This isn't the end. This is the beginning.

NEWTON: And that's been the point here all along, people saying that look, this isn't the end, this is the beginning of a protest movement.

(voice-over): The mayor's response? Bring it on.

R. FORD: Listen, be very careful on what you write.

NEWTON: Even as new allegations swirled about drug abuse, he says nothing will tear him away from his job.


BLITZER: Paula, all this new information you mentioned earlier, and again it's important to note, none of it has been proven in court. So what's the status of the police investigation? Is the mayor himself cooperating with law enforcement? NEWTON: Well, that was quite a bombshell, something that was a bit missed with all the sordid details today, that Rob Ford admitted in council chambers, Wolf, that he is not cooperating with this police investigation.

I spoke to his lawyer, Dennis Morris, afterwards he says that is the advice to the mayor and he takes it. The problem here, though, Wolf, is you'll remember this is a man that is in charge of the police department. He's not cooperating with the very department that he oversees.

And many people are wondering how long this can go on. Mayor Ford says, "Look, I'm not an addict. I am staying on this job. I am a good mayor, and no one can prove otherwise" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Paula Newton in Toronto for us. What a story that is. Thanks very, very much.

Let's go back to Anderson. He's in the Philippines -- Anderson.

COOPER: Just unbelievable story out of Toronto, Wolf.

When we come back we're going to show you the scenes that we have been witnessing for days now. The hundreds of thousands of people just lined up waiting to get out. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Nowhere is the desperation in Tacloban more evident than here at the airport, where thousands of residents line up. They're waiting and have been waiting for hours for a seat on a plane to take them to Manila, a Philippine military flight.

There's no guarantee they're going to get on a flight today, however. They just come here every day. These are the priority cases. Oftentimes, they have children, they are elderly, but they are desperate to get out. They've been here for hours, and they're going to be here for many more hours until the plane arrives.


COOPER: As I told you at the top of the program, as promised by Brigadier General Paul Kennedy of the U.S. Marines, he has been able to get this -- this airport operating on a 24-hour basis. So flights are coming in at night. Last night was the first night that that happened, bringing in more aid supplies. So that is certainly the good news.

The other good news is that the Marines have started to spread out to try to make -- to try to get out and assess the needs along with their counterparts in the Philippine navy, Philippine military, assess some of these smaller towns and cities on islands and outlying areas that are more difficult to get to. Some of them you can only get by air or by water. We went out a short time ago with the Marines on their Osprey jets. Let's watch.


COOPER (voice-over): The Ospreys have arrived. American Marines are now using their unique aircraft to check on remote island communities cut off by the typhoon.

Today we're flying to an island called Samar. From the air, the damage to its main city, Giwan (ph), is clear.

Ospreys fly like planes but can also hover like helicopters. Before landing, the crew makes sure the runway is safe. Most of the passengers on board today are Philippine navy personnel. Captain Troy Trinidad is trying to assess the needs of the island's people.



COOPER: Forty-five thousand people live here. Eighty-seven died in the storm. Hundreds are sick or injured, and some need urgent care.

(on camera): The lady here needs medical attention that she clearly cannot get on this small island. So Colonel Trinidad has been asked if -- if U.S. military will take her someplace else. They're going to try to bring her on the Osprey back to -- back to Tacloban, and from there get her either to Manila or to Cebu.

(voice-over): Dozens of people are waiting and watching, hopeful more relief is on the way.

(on camera): What's it like for you to see this? You've seen a lot of disasters, a lot of typhoons in your country.

TRINIDAD: I've been through earthquakes; I've been through typhoons. This is the worst. Devastation is so wide, so severe. Tacloban badly hit? This is worse.

COOPER: This is worse?

TRINIDAD: This is worse.

COOPER: And it hasn't gotten the attention yet.

TRINIDAD: Not yet.

COOPER: Not yet.

TRINIDAD: There may be other towns that we still have to see, which may be as devastated as this one, maybe even more.

COOPER: And just a question of you being able to get to them.


COOPER (voice-over): Captain Trinidad says they've only been able to get to about 20 percent of the towns that may have been affected by the typhoon.

TRINIDAD: If you were actually on the ground, you would see the sense of despair and hopelessness in the place of the people. Unlike the other typhoons that you see the people starting to relive their normal lives. By the fourth day after the typhoon, very seldom will you see somebody starting to rebuild his life. Everybody, almost everybody walking around, wandering aimlessly.

COOPER (on camera): People don't know even where to begin.


COOPER (voice-over): Now that they know the landing strip can accommodate the Osprey, U.S. Army Major Leo Leebright (ph) says they can quickly return.

MAJ. LEO LEEBRIGHT (PH), U.S. ARMY: This opens up a new tool. We can start finding. A lot of capabilities with the aircraft. Along with loiter (ph) times, quick turns, carry a lot of cargo. We can drop off supplies, bring in injured. It's really an amazing tool.

COOPER: After 40 minutes on the ground, they re-board the planes. The woman in the wheelchair and her family members are brought along, as well. One more island, one more mission. The effort here has really just begun.


COOPER: If you've been watching our coverage over the last several days you may remember the first day when we arrived, we went out to a community about maybe half a mile or so from here. We walked out there.

We found a man who was desperate to get in touch with his mother in Manila, let his mother know that he was still alive but that his wife was dead and two of his children were dead. He still had one daughter left alive named Christina.

We -- you know, there are no cell phones. Cell service is down. We gave him our satellite phone. And he was able to talk to his mother. Here's how that went.



COOPER (voice-over): "They're gone, they're all gone," he says.


COOPER: "I don't know why this happened to me."


COOPER: We've been getting a lot of inquiries from people on social media, on Twitter and Facebook, about what has happened to him, how he is doing. We haven't been able to get back in touch with him.

Right after this broadcast we're going to go out to the neighborhoods again, walk around and try to find him just to see how he's doing.

One of the saddest things that he said to us, which didn't make it into our report is, he said that, with the death of his wife, with the death of two of his children, that he thought about killing himself. But the only thing that kept him alive and is keeping him alive is the fact that one of his daughters, his eldest daughter, is still alive. And she needs him. So he's staying alive simply for her.

But obviously, he is in desperate, desperate shape. Hopefully we'll be able to find him to see how he's doing.

When we come back we're going to talk to all our correspondents here on the ground. We'll be right back.



COOPER: American Marines promised to get this airport up and running on a 24-hour basis. And they have lived up to that promise, along with U.S. Air force personnel, who are here on the ground overseeing operations.

Last night was the first night that C-130 cargo planes were able to land during nighttime hours. And as you can tell, it's already made a difference. There's a lot more aid now on the ground here at the airport in Tacloban. These are -- these are actually boxes of medical supplies. Looks like they're from Germany. These are boxes, pallets full of boxes from USAID from the United States. These are plastic tarps, sheets that can be cut up by families. Thousands of them. They can be used for shelter, which is critically important here for the people who have really no shelter from the elements whatsoever.

The question is how quickly can this aid be distributed out to the communities that need it most? Can it be distributed safely, efficiently and quickly? That's the big hold-up right now.

The Philippine government on the local government here, even the federal government is very disorganized. There aren't the capabilities. They don't have trucks. There's a shortage of fuel. So how quickly this aid can get out there right now, that's the biggest challenge.


COOPER: That certainly is a big challenge, as we've been seeing. I'm joined by all our correspondents who have been here far longer than I: Paula Hancocks and Andrew Stevens, Nick Paton Walsh, as well.

We talked about this at the top of the program. I just want to reiterate, there apparently is some belief among the Philippine government or the interior minister, he was upset with me that -- saying they tweeted something that there's no government presence here. There certainly is a government presence.

What I was saying -- and I didn't tweet anything at all -- was saying that I have not seen a big relief effort out in communities by Philippine military personnel doing a grid search for bodies, even searching for any survivors.

Do you all agree with that pretty much? I mean, what are you seeing out there in terms of the aid effort? It's certainly gotten better over the last day.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely. Just yesterday I was with the World Food Program. And they had three army trucks taking the aid down to a big warehouse. There's actually a warehouse that was pre-existing and hadn't been demolished. They called it the golden warehouse because it wasn't hit by the storm, and it wasn't looted. I mean, there was an armed -- there was an APC down there. There was a lot of military down there to make sure.

But there's a lot of food there. WFP says they've got 75,000 family packs that are out there. They want to get the word out that people are getting food at this point.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I've been speaking to the man, basically, that's pretty much in charge of the government response of this. And his analogy is it's like trying to fill up a swimming pool with -- with hoses. Like getting more and more hoses in there, and they are.

And he said, "Look, we had a plan. Our plan was to come in on day three. It was going to be a first responder issue." But as he points out, the first responders disappeared.

Now, they got in here 24 hours after that storm. They weren't able to do much. And there's no doubt about it. You go downtown now, and there is so much anger still. And there is a military presence. But there's still so much work to be done down there. So the government appreciates that, realizes that, but they say, "We're doing the best we can."

COOPER: Andrew.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The remarkable thing is we went for a drive yesterday out from Tacloban to down south to the towns that lie in the southern road also in the path of the storm. But as you drove away from here, it's sort of slowly less affected. Still badly hit. The key issue for the furthest one away would be were talking about by police, saying the rebels and bandits, they claim, robbing civilians for food perhaps.

You move back in, the town Palu (ph), not far away from here, very concrete in its infrastructure. So able to resist a lot. And a much more organized mayor who said to us she buried 813 -- that's a lot of bodies -- in the first 48 hours.

They'd given out food before the storm. They had an instruction working there. That's all great. But it begs the question. This is the biggest city here. You know, it's a huge gulf in the government's capabilities here. There are still dead bodies on that road as you go in, you know, the same ones day after day. And people do have to ask themselves what's the priority been here and where have they been in the past, certainly, initial four days. A slow trickle we're seeing now.

COOPER: Yes. And hopefully, that's just going to get better and better as the days pass. Appreciate all of your reporting.

We're going to take a short break. We'll have more coverage from the Philippines when we come back. We'll be right back.


COOPER: That's it for us here in the Philippines. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.