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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education postponed the opening of classes in flood-hit areas in Cagayan de Oro City for one month. The postponement aims to give the local government time to relocate evacuees staying in schools in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Sendong.
“The postponement of classes only applies to areas where there are evacuees. Hopefully, we will be able to relocate the evacuees that are still in the schools,” Cagayan de Oro City Vicente Emano said in Filipino in an interview on ANC.
Emano said only three to four schools will be affected by the suspension of classes. Classes will resume in February. He admitted, however, the one-month period is not enough time to relocate the evacuees.
Cagayan de Oro City was worst hit during the storm. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council pegged the death toll from Sendong at 1,249 as of Wednesday, Dec. 28, 6am. Sendong devastated Northern Mindanao and parts of Visayas last Dec. 17.
Relocation biggest problem
Emano said relocating evacuees and families living in flood-prone areas remains the biggest problem of the local government.
“There are those that have been affected by the floods also that need to be relocated plus the fact that there is an order from the President that nobody should be allowed in these high-risk areas so that means that if they will not move back to the areas, we will have to relocate them as well.”
Emano said he is developing a 9-hectare area where the residents can be transferred. The Filipino Chinese-Community of the Philippines offered to construct 300 houses for free, and may be expanded to 1,000 homes. The construction is set to be completed in three months.
The Jesuit-run Xavier University also donated a 5-hectare property for the construction of homes for the affected Cagayanons.
Emano added that the total of 14 hectares of land will not be enough for all of the residents but it will accommodate many victims. – Rappler.com