Scenes of sick children and adults in search for food or their missing family members greeted an official of the Cebu City government who went to Compostela Valley last week to assess what help is needed for the victims of typhoon Pablo.
Food and water were scarce or unfit for human consumption, said Alvin Santillana, operations head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.
He said people are in dire need of drinking water, ready-to-eat food, juices and milk in Tetra Paks.
“Everything is down on the ground. They are in a very sorry state. What they need is food that can be readily eaten,” Santillana told Cebu Daily News.
Typhoon Pablo devastated the towns of Cateel and Boston in Davao del Norte and New Bataan in Compostela Valley. Most of the families were left homeless.
While it is good to give rice and canned goods, there is no potable water they can use for cooking or kitchen utensils.
Santillana said it is not advisable to donate junk food.
“They need something sweet to give them energy for the day and towels that can be used after bathing, which they can fold and turn into a pillow for the night and for protection from the extreme heat during the day. They can hardly find shade because trees and buildings were completely washed out,” he said.
“The government needs to sustain food provision of the people for about three months,” he said.
Since road were washed out, transporting relief goods to the victims in far flung areas is the biggest obstacle.
Some Cebu-based businessmen and Jaycees members have pledged to help ship relief goods from Cebu to the town of Boston in Davao del Norte. From there, the military will use air force helicopters to bring the goods to residents of New Bataan, said Santillana.
He said the devastated towns are also in need of psychologists to attend to the traumatized victims.
“The victims need people to talk to especially those who are the lone survivor of the family. Debriefing is also needed for relatives who went there to look for their missing family members and are getting anxious,” he said.
A week after the storm spared Cebu from devastation, a steady stream of donations keep flowing into relief collection drives being organized in the province by various groups.
Leo Lastimosa, station manager of radio station dyAB said they started their relief drive last December 5, a day after Typhoon Pablo hit parts of Mindanao and the Visayas.
“Cebuanos are really generous,” said Lastimosa as he watched volunteers sort and pack clothes and food donations to be sent to the calamity areas.
As of yesterday afternoon, ABS-CBN has received P1.4 million in cash donations and P5 million to P6 million worth of donations in kind. “Eighty percent of these relief goods came from ordinary people,” said Lastimosa citing the taxi drivers, students, and workers.
Nearly 300 volunteers from schools and companies have come to lend their free time to help in repacking the goods.
“We need more volunteers especially big ones to carry the donations,” Lastimosa said.
HOW TO DONATE
ABS-CBN has appealed for donors to follow the 2-3-2 rule: two kilos of rice, three packs of noodles and two canned goods.
The network’s two main drop-off centers are at the old Fuente Osmeña Police Station and ABS-CBN station in Jagobiao, Mandaue City.
The drop-off center at Fuente Osmeña will only operate until today. However, Lastimosa said they are still accepting donations from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at their Mandaue station.
“We won’t close if there are still donations coming in,” said Lastimosa.
Meanwhile, a DSWD social worker said the University of Visayas has decided to cancel their Christmas party and will instead divert their celebration budget to help the typhoon victims.
“Dr. (Eduardo) Gullas told me that they will be collecting money from their employees and school staff to buy relief goods to the victims,” Sheba Dabon of DSWD said.
DSWD Central Visayas is coordinating with the regional office in Davao for the shipment of donations from Cebu to the affected areas. Dabon said they aim to send the relief goods before Christmas.
Christian Rodriguez of Thinkers and Doers Events Management said they will organize a concert to raise funds for the typhoon victims. “We are still planning the concert but definitely, it will be this December,” Rodriguez said.
The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), in a statement, announced that it is cancelling its relief operations for storm affected areas in Cebu.
“The RAFI assessment teams sent to the southern, northern, and western parts of Cebu yesterday reported that the local government units are capable of responding to the needs of affected residents and that damage is minimal,” the statement said. /Marian Z. Codilla and Tweeny M. Malinao