TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines – Since Christmas Eve, typhoon evacuees here have been anxiously asking about the new weather disturbance, which they feared could hit their already devastated communities in Compostela Valley.
When the low pressure area that the government weather station monitored in the past days became a tropical depression and further morphed into storm Quinta, fear set in among the evacuees such as Fe Menorias and over a hundred others sheltering at the Rotary Park volleydrome in Poblacion village here.
Tropical storm Quinta (international codename: Wukong) could become another ‘Pablo’, the howler that took away more than 1,000 lives and displaced over a million people in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces early this month, they said.
Surviving typhoon victims heaved a sigh of relief when news came that Quinta would not hit the Pablo-devastated areas anymore.
“We are thankful that it won’t be hitting us anymore,” Menorias, a 41-year-old mother from New Bataan town, said.
Gino Mabasa, an employee of the New Bataan local government unit, who has been visiting and checking on his town mates here, said the typhoon survivors have not overcome the trauma left by “Pablo.”
Just the mere sight of dark clouds forming could push them into anxiety, he said.
“Even a slight rain already sends shivers of fear in the people. They would immediately leave to take shelter elsewhere,” Mabasa told the Philippine Inquirer, adding that another batch of New Bataan residents had in fact arrived in Tagum before daybreak Tuesday due to fears of another flood.
If anything good came out of the tragedy, it was the people’s sudden interest in the weather, said Mabasa.
In fact, when the Philippine Daily Inquirer visited an evacuation center here Tuesday, the displaced Compostela Valley residents were all glued to a TV set to get updates on Quinta.
At one point, people became annoyed when a child, who earlier got hold of the TV’s remote control, accidentally shifted channels.
“Who switched channels? Bring back the news channel,” an irate woman shouted as others pointed to the “culprit,” a young girl who sheepishly handed the remote to an adult seated next her.
“We’ve had enough already,” said Menorias. “If this storm had hit us, I don’t know how we could have recovered,” she said.
When the news reader said Quinta would not be hitting southern Mindanao, the evacuees chorused: “Ay salamat (Thanks).”
Menorias said she was still worrying even if Quinta spared her province because the people in the typhoon’s path could also be at risk.
“We’re hoping and praying it would not cause damage in areas on its path,” she said, citing how hard life has become for her and her neighbors after Pablo.