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Relief goods reaching Bohol hardly enough for suffering families

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Relief goods reaching Bohol hardly enough for suffering families

/ 08:10 PM October 17, 2013

People display a message “Please Help Us” as they camp out in the middle of a rice field to avoid aftershocks at Calape township, Bohol province in central Philippines, Wednesday Oct. 16, 2013. AP

MARIBOJOC, Bohol, Philippines—In the past two days, residents had to rely on their own to survive after the magnitude 7.2-earthquake destroyed their homes, their church and the power and water supply.

Help finally came on Thursday but it was hardly enough.

Two sacks each containing 20 packs of canned goods and rice arrived in Barangay Candavid, hardly enough for 600 residents, most of whom were staying in waiting sheds and in makeshift tents put up in vacant lots and school grounds in the absence of a formal evacuation center.

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When it rained on Wednesday night, the evacuees tried to cover the sides with cloth to prevent them from getting wet. But it hardly worked.

They could not go back to their homes that were destroyed by the earthquake.

Residents had complained of little government presence in the municipality, one of three towns hardest hit by the earthquake. The two others were Loboc and Loon.

Like in many towns in Bohol, Maribojoc’’s water system was damaged during the quake. It was also among the towns that didn’t have power supply.

Residents had to walk for at least one kilometer of rough pathway to get to the nearest spring for their water needs.

The three fatalities in Candavid were buried at the public cemetery in Barangay Poblacion, Maribojoc, without rites because there was no available priest.

The Santa Cruz Parish Church was among the old churches in Bohol that were reduced to rubble during the earthquake on Tuesday.

Clemencia Reputana was weaving a mat while granddaughters Cielo and Sarah Jean Camarillo were watching a television program when their house collapsed during the earthquake.

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They were buried the next day because they started to smell. A handful of neighbors helped make their coffins and carry them to the public cemetery about a five-kilometer walk from Candavid “for their final resting place.”

Norman Barbosa, a resident of Candavid, let go his goat and pig because he could no longer feed them.

He told his neighbors that they were free to slaughter them if they could catch them after he and his family decided to stay with his wife’s relatives in adjacent Loon town after his house was destroyed by the earthquake.

Difficulty in reaching the municipality was the primary reason why the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) could not send their relief goods sooner.

Maribojoc and Loon towns have been isolated following the collapse of the Abatan Bridge that linked the two towns to Tagbilaran City.

Jaybee Binghay, DSWD information officer for Central Visayas, said Maribojoc was among the 13 towns that hadn’t submitted a report on affected families.

“Maybe, this is the reason why they had not received (any relief goods),” she said.

The 12 others were Alburquerque, Anda, Baclayon, Balilihan, Bien Unido, Candijay, Clarin, Garcia Hernandez, Lila, Talibon, Trinidad and Valencia.

“It could either be they were not affected or the devastation was so bad they could not send a report,” Bingha told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

She, however, assured that the DSWD had identified them as priority areas to visit and check what happened there.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman would fly in to Maribojoc on Friday to check on the situation there and bring in relief goods.

Binghay said they had coordinated with the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Coast Guard in the relief operations.

For inaccessible areas, she added PAF helicopters would be used to bring in relief goods and Coast Guard vessels for coastal municipalities.

Binghay said they were given instruction to send people to affected areas and validate other help needed there.

The DSWD also was told to prepare 10,000 family packs per day for distribution. Family packs consisted of six 3-kilo rice bags, five canned goods, three to four liters of bottled water and noodles, which would be good for three days for a family of six.

In Loon, at least 600 evacuees living in makeshift tents in the church grounds of Our Lady of Light Parish in Barangay Napu had been relying on rice and noodles as meals since Tuesday.

They pooled in their rice and noodles together. One of them would cook and then distribute to the families who contributed. The system was meant to cut the cooking time and resources since water was scarce. They also had to use dry twigs for cooking.

As fears of food shortage started to hit the evacuees, the relief goods from the government finally arrived on Thursday, on board the Coast Guard vessel that docked at the municipality port about 8 a.m., bringing in sacks of rice, canned goods, used clothing and noodles.

These were brought to the municipal hall about two hours later. Some had to be brought on board motorcycles while others in multipurpose cabs because the roads were badly damaged.

Mayor Lloyd Lopez of Loon also ordered the rationing of water supply to 67 barangays using the municipal fire truck after residents complained of lack of water supply.

People were seen lining up the streets, bringing their empty gallons and water containers “all eager for the fire truck to arrive.

When it finally arrived, the water was yellowish and was not potable.

The residents relied on the sole water refilling in Barangay Basak, which opened only on Thursday. But the supply could not meet with the more than 100 people waiting outside.

In Barangay Poblacion, Loon, at least 50 people were seen lining outside Uy Kun Enterprise, which provided free charging of battery cell phones after its owner was able to use his truck battery as a power source.

Lopez said that with the arrival of the relief goods, the town was still in need of water, medicines and proper tents especially for evacuees whose houses were destroyed by the earthquake.

Many affected residents in Barangay Napu used tarpaulin tied on its four sides as shelter, leaving the sides open to the cold wind and rain.

But they preferred to stay there instead of going back to their houses because of the ongoing aftershocks. Most of their homes were damaged while a number were destroyed.

Lopez said they were still consolidating the total number of affected residents in his town.

Vicente Saguitarius, said he, his wife Lucia and two children preferred to stay on church grounds where they felt safer compared to their house where a portion had collapsed.

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TAGS: Bohol, Calamity, Candavid, Cebu, disaster, Earthquake, Loboc, Local authorities, Local Governments, Loon, Maribojoc, relief and rehabilitation, relief goods, rescue, Tagbilaran City
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