For Typhoon Ursula victims, welcoming the year would be difficult

Jene-Anne Pangue
For Typhoon Ursula victims, welcoming the year would be difficult
In Barangay Matarinao, a village of around 544 families, 3,386 houses were totally damaged while 315 houses were partially destroyed when Typhoon Ursula struck

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines –  You could see defeat in the eyes of Vergira Rangis.

Her house was among the hundreds totally damaged in Brgy. Matarinao, Salcedo, Eastern Samar when Typhoon Ursula (Phanfone) made its landfall in their town on Tuesday, December 24. 

When it was safe for them to leave the evacuation center on Christmas day, she was stunned to see her house gone, completely swept away by the storm. 

“Namaura ura ngani han an yana kontra han Yolanda. Ky an amon luyo han balay waray adto karuba hin duro. (The effect of Typhoon Ursula to us was worst than Yolanda. During Yolanda, the back part of our house wasn’t destroyed),” said Rangis. It was only 6 years ago when they survived Super Typhoon Yolanda’s rampage through Eastern Visayas.Photo by Jene-Anne Pangue/Rappler

A village of around 544 families, 3,386 houses were totally damaged while 315 houses were partially destroyed in Barangay Matarinao due to the typhoon. (READ: Typhoon Ursula death toll climbs to 41

Making use of what’s left 

Rangis said she spent Christmas day cleaning what was left of them – her children’s school uniforms, clothes, shoes, kitchenware among others. 

“Nababaraka ako kay pag January, may klase na an akon mga anak pero an ira mga gamit waray na” (I am worried because my children would not have anything when they go back to school next year because all their things are gone), Rangis added. 

Her husband, who was recently hospitalized due to asthma, was left with no choice but to put off the debris so they would have something to sleep on at night. 

Moreover, she said she was thankful for the tarpaulin she kept with her to the evacuation center. They used it as a stretch of roof to cover their makeshift house. 

Every night, she prays it wouldn’t rain.  But when it does, she knew they have no choice but to implore that it stops soon. 

Rangis said all she wanted for the coming year was for her family to have a house. 

TOTALLY DAMAGED. Typhoon Ursula tore the house of Vergera Rangis, one of the residents of Brgy. Matarinao in Salcedo, Eastern Samar.  Photo by Jene-Anne Pangue/Rappler

“Ada it akon karuyag yana nga new year, ini nga kun pupuydi la, makakuan ako hit amon [panimalay]. Bisan naman la diri dako, makatayo basta makakuan ako hit amon balay.  Bisan waray na namon handa, basta it amon balay, maayad la,” Rangis said. 

(What I want for the new year is for us to have our own house back. It doesn’t have to be big. What is important is that we have a place to stay. It doesn’t matter if we won’t have some food prepared to celebrate, what matters it that our house would be repaired.)

For Barangay councilor Miguel Ugana, 70,  the challenge of the storm continues. He said most of the residents need construction materials to rebuild their damaged houses. 

“Waray paghunong iton pag-inupay hiton balay ky bisan ngani ako, yana, tikang pala ako hiton didto pagbulig hin pagbubong hin luna (People never stopped repairing their house [since Ursula struck]. Just now, for instance, I just came from helping put up a tarpaulin as roof),” Ugana expressed. 

Livelihood also affected 

Since the village is near the coastal areas, most of the residents make a living from fishing.

After Typhoon Ursula struck, Pedro Gagap, 65, spent his time repairing his neighbors’ fishing boat.

Gagap said it would take months before fishing gets back to normal again because of the effect that the typhoon brought to the condition of the seas. Also, the lack of electricity means there is no gasoline supply to power up their lamps and motorized boats. 

After Typhoon Ursula struck, Pedro Gagap, 65, spends his time repairing his neighbors' fishing boat. He said he couldn't go back to fishing just yet, so in the meantime, doing repairs would be a big help to meet their daily needs. Photo by Jene-Anne Pangue/Rappler

He thought doing repairs in the meantime would be a big help to meet his family’s daily needs. 

Emiliano Daiz, 50 years old,  shared the same sentiment. 

Daiz owns a retail store. When the typhoon came, his goods were soaked due to the heavy rain and flood. His house also got flooded and and the roof was blown off. 

UNROOFED. Typhoon Ursula battered houses in Brgy. Matarinao as it made its first landfall in the municipality of Salcedo in Eastern Samar. Photo by Jene-Anne Pangue/Rappler

“Pagbagyo han Ursula, han yana na, maluya iton namamalit ky waray man gud namon kinukuhaan hiton income. It iba nga tawo didi ha amon barangay, waray man gud iparalit ky waray makakadto ha dagat,”  Daiz said. 

(After the storm hit, there were only a few people buying goods because of the lack of income. Some people in our barangay couldn’t afford to buy because they still can’t go back fishing.)

AFFECTED. 50-year-old Emiliano Daiz' retail store was also flooded by Typhoon Ursula. His goods were soaked with the heavy rains and flood. Photo by Jene-Anne Pangue/Rappler

Daiz said he was worried that his community might not have enough food in the coming days. 

“Tapos it amon problema pa yana it pagkaon gud namon didi makuri it amon kabutang. Ini nga waray namon gud nakukuhaan hin source hiton amon pagkaon (We worry about our current situation. We don’t have a source of where we can get our food),” Daiz said. 

Salcedo Mayor Melchor Melgar said that agriculture was also heavily affected. 

He said the municipality was still recovering from the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda, then another typhoon devastated it again. 

“Ang coconuts po ay it will take 5 years or even 7 years para talaga hanggang sa magbear ng fruit para pagkakitaan sana ng mga tao. Tapos na- Ursula kami, kung kailan babangon palang yung industriya, saka naman ulit aanuhin ni Ursula,” Melgar said. 

(Coconut trees take 5 or 7 years before they bear fruit so people can make a living out of it. Then Ursula came. Just when the agriculture industry started to recover, another typhoon destroyed it again.) 

DESTROYED. Typhoon Ursula leaves a trail of destruction in Brgy. Matarinao, Salcedo, Eastern Samar days after its landfall on Tuesday, December 24. Photo by Jene-Anne Pangue/Rappler

At least P782.97 million worth of updated damage and losses in the farm sector were reported by the Department of Agriculture-Disaster and Risk Reduction Management (DA-DRRM) Operation Center on Sunday, December 29. 

The province of Eastern Samar was also declared under a state of calamity on Friday morning, December 27. (READ: Areas under state of calamity due to Typhoon Ursula

In the initial report by the Eastern Samar Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) and the governor’s office, more than 15% of the population of the entire province experienced the brunt of the typhoon. Thus the need for emergency assistance such as food, shelter, and health services. (READ: #ReliefPH: Help those affected by Typhoon Ursula

While the residents of Barangay Matarinao would brave through the challenges of the coming year with almost no possessions, they hope they could find a way to recover again. – 

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Jene-Anne Pangue

Jene-Anne Pangue is a community and civic engagement specialist of MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm. Her involvement with Rappler started when she became a mover in 2014 and an intern in 2015. Since then, she learned the importance of building communities of action for social good as she continues to work with movers and doers across the country.