SK official, residents of Usman-hit Albay towns seek aid
ALBAY, Philippines – A Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) official of Tiwi town in this province on Tuesday, January 1, requested help for her village – one of those severely affected in Usman-hit Bicol region.
“The recent calamity has hit our barangay and caused destruction of properties and loss of lives due to landslides and unexpected floodings,” said Bariis SK Chairman Judy Ann Coderis.
Coderis said she is seeking help on behalf of affected residents for help in meeting basic needs, including clean and potable water, food, clothing, medicine. and hygiene kits.
“Many have lost their houses, properties, and even loved ones. Most of the houses were flooded and left with massive amount of mud. As of the moment, there are still 3 persons missing,” she added.
According to carangay captain Jaime Convencido, at least 5 families from 16 washed-out households are staying at the barangay’s multi-purpose hall.
Among them is John Onday, who tried to save some of their belongings but was unsuccessful.
“I stayed home to secure our things while my parents and siblings took refuge in a safer place. But everything was ruined,” John said.
Some found refuge in their relatives’ homes in Bariis.
Thankful for any help
The affected residents received their first relief goods Monday night, January 1, when the road was cleared.
According to Shiela Magat-Basbas, a personality-and-skills-development teacher to some of the affected residents, the people are grateful for any help provided, especially food.
“At least daw may pandagdag sila sa pagkain ngayon (At least they have additional food for today.),” she relayed.
The search and retrieval operations for 3 missing persons started at 12 pm today, or 3 days since they went missing.
Two days earlier, netizens called the attention of the Tiwi government for the lack of rescue teams in Bariis, where missing persons had beenreported.
Elementary school teacher Joem Periña, a Bariis resident, took to Facebook to air his observations on the events.
Periña wrote: “Wara pang nakakalaog na rescuers sa Bariis and Maynonong areas kun sain may reported na mga missing. Wara pang ayuda na nag aabot.... Habang naghahaloy, nagsasadit an pag-asa kan mga pamilya kaini na makua pang buhay an mga nawawara.”
(There are still no rescuers in Bariis and Maynonong where there have been reported missing. There are no help [of any kind yet.] The longer the family of missing persons wait, the slimmer their chance of finding them alive.)
Tiwi Vice Mayor David Beato said the delay was due to the road blockage. “The road beyond barangay Sugod was unpassable at the time, he said.
Netizens suggested ways to get to the isolated villages. Periña suggested a boat ride.
When Beato was asked about this, he said: “We have a Coast Guard stationed near a coastal area, waiting for direction. It’s up to the person in charge.”
Coderis confirmed this. “We saw Coast Guards stationed somewhere near Sugod on our way to the town proper. But why they didn’t come to our barangay amidst our report for missing persons is also our question,” she said.
Diverting the flood flow
Meanwhile, in nearby Barangay Joroan, a known Albay pilgrim site, affected residents appealed to help to divert the flow of the flood away from their residential street.
“Nagmeeting na ang aming barangay officials at kailangan namin ng magpapahiram ng machineries to do this (Our barangay officials have conducted a meeting, and they said we need the help of those with heavy equipment to do this),” according to a resident whose house was affected by the flood.
“Puwede sana pansamantala sa palayan padaaanin kaysa dito sa residential area kaya lang ayaw ng may-ari (This flood could be diverted to that rice field but the owner won't allow it),” said another resident, Levi Camacho. – Rappler.com