Flood evacuees leave Laguna tent city



SAN PEDRO, Laguna—A day after Christmas, 444 families living in a tent city here since the August monsoon rains finally returned to their homes.

The flood victims, totaling 26,060 individuals from the villages of Cuyab and Landayan, started heading for their homes on Wednesday after the local government here informed them that their houses that were submerged in floods that subsided only last month are now habitable and ready for occupation.

The evacuees found shelter in a tent city put up on a private lot here and rented by the municipal government. The contract for the rent ended on Wednesday, according to Fatima Awtor, municipal social welfare and development officer.

Evacuees recalled the sadness they felt in the tent city.

“There were no Christmas trees, lanterns or fireworks. Not even a radio set for music or a television set so we could have at least watched Christmas shows,” said evacuee Elizabeth Recto, 53.

Another evacuee, Carol Rotoni, 30, said she and her mother did not feel the spirit of Christmas in the tent city.

“How can there be merrymaking or parties when we didn’t even have food [on Christmas Eve]?” she said.

Recto said spending the holidays in the tent city was painful for her because it reminded her of her husband, Edilberto, who died at the height of Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009.

She said she, her two children and three grandchildren felt lucky because they had half a chicken and rice to eat on Christmas Eve when “the other tents didn’t have any [food].”

Thousands of residents from lakeshore towns in Laguna and Rizal were displaced when waters in Laguna Lake rose in August.

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