CEBU CITY, Philippines – Jerson Tenebro, a 49-year-old carpenter from Sibonga, Cebu Province, said he came home after Typhoon Odette to see his house crushed by five fallen coconut trees.
“Among balay, yaka ana. Lima ka punoan sa lubi ang ni dakdak. Wala na, wasak na tanan,” he said. (Our house, it collapsed. Five coconut trees demolished it. It’s gone now, all destroyed.)
Jerson was one of the passersby who offered to give media personnel a ride to the Sibonga Municipal station for free. The road was inaccessible to cars due to a fallen mahogany tree, the third one that had to be cleared for Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s ocular inspection convoy.
Jerson said they did not anticipate the strength of Odette. This was common among residents of Cebu Province’s southern towns because for decades, the island has been spared from major damage by typhoons.
“Gamay ra gyud kayo among pagkaon (we’re really short on food),” he told Rappler, during the motorcycle ride to the municipal hall.
“Amoa ra gyud kay pagkaon gyud. Among gipangaon kay katong sobra ra sad sa mga niaging adlaw. Wala gyud kapangandam ba, wala gyud,” said Edgar Recupelacion, a 50-year-old resident from Carcar City, who was among the men who helped out in clearing the roads of fallen trees.
(What we really need is food. All we have are leftovers from the past days. We really were not able to prepare, not at all.)
Edgar said this was “undoubtedly” the strongest typhoon he experienced in Cebu.
Cebu Province was declared to be under a state of calamity by Garcia on Friday, December 17. The declaration will enable mayors to access their development funds, giving them more leeway to spend for relief and rebuilding operations.
“Clearing gyud sa dalan ang pinaka-importante usa kay para naa’y access,” she told Capitol media.
(Clearing operations are our top priority right now so that there would be access [to aid].)
No numbers yet
Communication lines are down in most parts of the province. Because of this, Provincial Disaster Office chief Neil Sanchez said that they were unable to get the updated tally of damage costs and casualties from the southern towns.
“As of yesterday, halos tanang towns – north and south – na-contact na nato. As to casualties, wa pa ta kahibaw og naa ba kay wa na man gud tay communications,” Sanchez told Cebu media.
(As of yesterday, we’ve already contacted all towns – north and south. As to casualties, we don’t know the numbers yet because we don’t have communications.)
“What we’re going to do right now, basin i-town-to-town namo’g suroy (maybe we’ll visit from town-to-town),” he added.
The provincial government’s convoy was able to make it only as far as Sibonga, a town 54 kilometers from Cebu City. The roads to the rest of the southern towns are still completely inaccessible.
Garcia said she will be meeting with the Capitol’s project contractors on Saturday to ask them to lend the provincial government their equipment to expedite the road clearing operations.
“I will be asking them to offer their equipment, including chainsaws and backhoes in order to clear the national road,” she said.
Garcia said food aid is ready for distribution. The Capitol will also be providing basic materials for residents who have lost their homes like galvanized iron, nails, and cement.
In the next days, the provincial government is set to meet with power distributors to discuss the restoration of Cebu’s electricity.
Jerson Tenebro, the carpenter from Sibonga, said he is planning to take on odd jobs to recover from the typhoon, and do repair work from his neighbors. What lies ahead is a two-fold rebuilding project from Jerson: that of his community, and that of his home. – Rappler.com