Waiting for Ruby
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – The radio plays at 4:30 in morning. Cheerful music, at odds with the dark of the school hallways. The air smells of rain and burning charcoal, the wind rushes in bursts out in the courtyard.
This is Gogon Elementary School, Legazpi City, where almost a thousand families have evacuated since Friday morning, December 5, due to Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit). Power has gone out across the province. Here, the occasional flashlight glows, a candle flickers on a teacher's desk.
Classrooms are packed with families, 20 to 30 to a room, with mothers walking babies over a lattice of sleeping bodies. The rest sit along the hallways in green monobloc chairs, or lie asleep on makeshift pallets on stairwells, covered with blankets and propped umbrellas.
Families have come with bread and milk, and packed food, enough for the rest of the day. There are less men than women here – husbands and sons have chosen to stay home to guard houses by the sea.
Alicia Bercilla, 55, of San Roque, worries for her men, the husband and son who stayed home, but says they have been through this before. Their home is close to the sea, and the last storm flooded their homes waist high.
At dawn the music is interrupted by the crackling voices of radio announcers, one station layering over another. Some say the storm will come soon, others say there are hours to wait. The hallways are lined with the waiting, watching the trees bend in the heavy wind. Outside, someone's pig sleeps tied to a tree.
Jeffrey Mendina, 28, says he is afraid. Many died in Tacloban during Super Typhoon Yolanda, he doesn't want the same to happen to his family. He arrived Friday afternoon with his wife and two small daughters. He will take no risks.
Albay has been put under a state of calamity. Legazpi has evacuated 12,000 families from 19 coastal towns. As of 6 in the evening Saturday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that at least 32,145 families, or 159,346 individuals, have evacuated from danger zones in the Bicol region. – Rappler.com