MANILA, Philippines – San Roque, a 30-minute drive from Northern Samar’s center in Catarman, still needs help, one resident said.
MaryJane Salomon, a mayoral candidate in San Roque, said she left the town as soon as she could in the hope of bringing attention to the situation of the people in her hometown.
While the damage was not as great as that caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), Salomon said it was close.
“Yung mga bahay na bago yung roofing nila, tanggal lahat ‘yun,” Salomon said. (Houses with new roofing lost their roofs as well.) Rainfall was not as great a concern for San Roque, but strong winds still damaged houses.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported 2,287 houses in total were damaged in San Roque – 2,139 partially and 148 totally.
At the time of her departure on December 17, Salomon said there was no electricity, and communication lines were down in San Roque. Because of the lack of contact with people outside the town, she said residents were worried.
Office of Civil Defense Region 8 Director Edgar Posadas confirmed the lack of power in Catarman and the surrounding areas, but said Globe and Smart had already restored services in the area.
Food, medicine, and shelter are among San Roque’s immediate needs, said Salomon. She said children were susceptible to cough and colds after the storm.
In terms of shelter, Salomon said plastic sheeting had already been distributed, but families needed thicker sheets to better protect them from the elements.
Posadas confirmed DSWD had begun relief operations in the area. The agency has already distributed family food packs, rice, canned goods, and tarpaulins.
Despite the ambush of two military trucks used in the relief efforts in Northern Samar, DSWD Undersecretary Vilma Cabrera said the agency would continue sending goods.
Region 8 has also received P2.7 million from the government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Salomon stressed the need for proper disaster preparation to mitigate the effects of storms. She used her observations of the days before Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit), and said disseminating information to the public at least two days before landfall forced people to brace themselves for the storm.
This time, she said, the people she talked to did not have the same sense of urgency because the information was lacking.
Posadas, however, refuted Salomon’s claim. “We sent out every bit of information,” he said.
During the NDRRMC’s Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment (PDMA) for Tropical Cyclone Onyok, Director Alan Tabell of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Central Office Disaster Information Coordinating Center said:
“Para walang mabulaga, ipinaalam sa mga LGU, sa governor, sa mayor, sa DRRMO ang pagdating ng Onyok. Tinatawag ng Codix, ang (DILG) Provincial Director, MLGOO (Municipal Local Government Operations Officer), DRRMO (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer) via call and text effects and characteristics of Onyok.“
(So no one is caught off guard, the LGU, governor, mayor, DRRMO were informed about Onyok’s arrival. CODIX [DILG coordinating center] calls the (DILG) Provincial Director, MLGOO, DRRMO and sends text about Onyok’s effects and characteristics.)
This was the same process of disseminating information during Nona.
Towns along the San Bernardino strait – the body of water separating the Bicol peninsula from Samar – also have early warning signals.
The government also ensures immediate relief is available by pre-positioning relief. But logistical factors like availability of trucks and road conditions could hamper distribution.
Although there are relief operations from the government, the public is still encouraged to help by providing foodstuffs like coffee, milk, and other non-perishable goods. Those with trucks are also invited to lend them for distribution. – Rappler.com
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