CEBU CITY, Philippines – Some residents of the Visayas’ center of commerce and surrounding cities waited for three hours in the dark before Typhoon Odette (Rai) made landfall, around 10 pm on Thursday, December 16.
Seven persons died in Barangay Maguikay, Mandaue City when a structure collapsed around 1:30 a.m.
In humble homes of Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City’s most populous barangay, Odette ripped roofs from homes, drenching families in the dead of night.
In the buildings at the IT Park near Apas, the combination of Odette’s powerful winds and a waterspout smashed panels of window glass. That terrifying combine also uprooted many of the young trees in the green spaces between buildings of the IT Park.
By mid-morning of Friday, December 17, many areas of Metro Cebu remained without power, potable water, Internet service or basic telecommunications connections.
Long lines of vehicle owners crammed the few gasoline stations that were able to open. Those seeking more comfortable lodgings than their homes were turned away by hotels also struggling to deal with the lack of power.
As of 7:45 p.m. of December 17, most parts of Metro Cebu were still without power.
At the evacuation center in Barangay Guadalupe, which has a population of 70,000, Sitio Andres resident Jay Caballes said he had been going around trying to find a power source to charge his mobile phone.
“Naa pa [mi balay], atop lay wala na gyud. Naa pa’y mga bungbung, atop, pero gamay na lang nahabilin atop. Maihap na lang. Ang uban, nangabali,” he told Rappler.
(We still have a house, the roof blew off though. The neighbors still have roofs, but only a few. You can count them. Other roofs were broken.)
In the Bisaya language of Cebu, Caballes said his family had not received aid yet.
Young children got drenched when winds tore the roofs off their homes, Analy Gomez, Caballes’ sister-in-law said. An older sister’s house, she added, was crushed by a felled tree.
Gomez appealed for help in getting roofing material for affected the barangay.
“We don’t know how we’re going to rise from this,” Guadalupe Barangay Councilor Apol Ross Enriquez told Rappler
“We have so many evacuees we’re trying to accomodate. We had to transfer some last night and transfer more today because their homes were destroyed,” Enriquez said in Bisaya.
He said around 1,000 evacuees were brought to the barangay gym and to the Banawa Elementary School.
Guadalupe SK Chairman Jan Jay Casanal said rescuers had to pause at the height of Odette’s fury because falling trees were blocking roads.
“Our rescuers couldn’t get through. Aside from that, it was risky because the roofs were flying; that’s why they could only be rescued early in the morning,” Casanal added.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Lopez Rama said local government staff were still busy doing clearing operations and trying to collate data of loss of lives and property.
Rama asked for private sector help in feeding thousands of evacuees and reassured frustrated residents that help was coming.
“We need your understanding,” the mayor said in a mix of English and Bisaya.
He promised the city government would hold daily command conferences to fast track the recovery of Cebu City. – with reports from Lorraine Ecarma and Art Lubiano/Rappler.com