Dark Christmas for Yolanda survivors

LeAnne Jazul
Thousands of families in Leyte will have their noche buena – or a semblance of it – in candle light

STILL WITHOUT POWER. Dominga and Consuelo Elle sharing dinner inside their home in Brgy 35, Tacloban City December 23, 2013. Photo by Rappler/LeAnne Jazul

LEYTE, Philippines – Thousands of families in typhoon-hit Leyte are spending Christmas eve in the dark, as power has not been connected to their households.

Leyte II Electric Cooperative Inc (Leyeco II) was only able to restore power in 36% of its service areas in Tacloban, Palo and Babatgon, Leyeco II officer-in-charge Macel Avestruz told Rappler on Tuesday, December 24.

In hardest-hit Tacloban City, only 2.2% of its 35,000 consumers have electricity. Avestruz said they need another 6 to 7 months to restore power in all of the city’s households. Leyeco II is one of several power distributors in the province.

BFP CLEARANCE NEEDED. Homes submerged by flood need to be inspected before they can be energized.

“Power outage is still being experienced in some provinces and municipalities in Region IV-B, V, VI, VII, VIII,” according to a December 24 report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla on Tuesday claimed power has been restored “100%” in all Yolanda-hit areas. But while the grid has been fixed, it’s now up to local government units to make sure households can connect to these power sources, he said. If households remain in the dark, that’s no longer the responsibility of his department, Petilla added. (READ: Power restored in Yolanda-hit areas)

Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) pummeled the Visayas on November 8 flattening many villages and claiming over 6,000 lives. 

Petilla, a former governor of Leyte, threatened to resign if he’s unable to restore power by December 24. (READ: Petilla: I’ll resign if no power by Christmas)

'PETROMAX'. A cheap alternative to electric generators.

Avestruz said they are waiting for the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to finish its inspection of houses submerged in floods so it can issue a certification that it’s safe to restore power in these houses. 

Street lights, which have been prioritized, are connected to power sources. Wealthier residents have been dependent on generator sets. – Rappler.com

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LeAnne Jazul

LeAnne has had 25 years of experience in the media industry. He joined Rappler for the 2013 elections and has stayed on. He is currently Rappler's photo editor.