Super Typhoon Lawin’s ground zero: A year after
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines – Dubbed the strongest to hit Cagayan province in recent years, Super Typhoon Lawin had left unimaginable damage when it struck the country a year ago.
Four people were killed and billions worth of damage was reported.
But a year after, not much of the damaged government infrastructure has been rehabilitated.
In Peñablanca town, considered ground zero, residents are still hoping the government would fast-track the rehabilitation of schools and bridges to bring back their normal life.
In Peñablanca National High School, one of the heaviest hit schools in the province, students are forced to hold their classes in an improvised wooden classroom.
After the typhoon, the school could no longer use 16 of its classrooms. 21 improvised classrooms were built to accommodate the school’s population.
Junior High School student Joval Taguinod shared their difficulties with holding classes in an “unfavorable” environment.
“One of the difficulties we experience is the dust. Our shoes get dusty or dirty. If our things fall on the floor, they also get dusty. When it’s rainy, we also get a little wet because of these types of rooms,” Taguinod said in Filipino.
But Taguinod, understanding that the government could not immediately build new classrooms for them, asked that the improvised classroom be at least cemented.
“We’ve been like this for 4 months. We’re asking the government to improve our classrooms, cement it a little, for us to have protection during rains so that we won’t get wet,” he added.
One of Taguinod’s teachers, Cyrene Carag, appealed to the government to act fast in the rehabilitation as the school’s current set-up is “not conducive for learning.”
Carag said that the lack of electricity in the improvised classrooms is making her job as a social studies teacher harder.
“For me, I’m a social studies teacher so it requires a lot of pictures for students to visualize what happened in the past, or movies or shows. In this kind of environment, we can’t do audio-visual presentations, no power outlets so we really just narrate to the students the events in the lesson,” Carag said.
During the onslaught of Typhoon Lawin, two bridges of Peñablanca town were destroyed, isolating 13 barangays (villages). A year after, two of them have yet to be replaced.
In Barangay Cabasan, one detour bridge and one floating wood bridge were constructed as temporary bridges for people going in and out of the 13 barangays.
But barangay councilman Marlo Pagulayan complained that the bridges would be submerged during heavy rains.
In fact, Pagulayan said both of the detour bridge's approaches were washed out last week due to continuous rains.
"This October, heavy rains are starting again. If it rains overnight, the water level submerges the overflow bridge and the approach gets destroyed. As you can see the local government is putting backfills to repair the approach so that motorcycles and tricycles can use the detour again here in Cabasan," Pagulayan said.
"We hope the government can speed up the disbursement of funds because it has given us big problems here, especially now that it’s harvesting season. It’s difficult to transport our products," he added.
The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Cagayan Valley said they have already requested P110 million from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund for the rehabilitation of the said bridges, but the request has yet to be approved. – Rappler.com