In Albay town, evacuees outside of Mayon danger zone sent home
GUINOBATAN, ALBAY—After two and a half months of staying at the evacuation center, more than 300 families were sent home by the municipal government here on Saturday despite the alert level 3 status still prevailing over Mayon Volcano.
Guinobatan Mayor Paul Chino Garcia told the Inquirer in an interview on Saturday that after careful review and with the recommendation of the Albay Public Safety Emergency Management Office, they decided that the 353 families or 1,194 individuals staying in the evacuation center can now return home.
“They are out of danger since they are residing outside the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone based on [the] assessment and map of the Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology),” he said.
Some evacuees welcomed the municipal government’s decision to decamp them.
“Thank God! Sleepless nights are over and the best part is I can attend to my household chores,” said Richelle Otilla, 34, a housewife and resident of Tandarora village.
Otilla, in an interview on Saturday, said even though her family didn’t experience hunger at the evacuation center because everything was provided for by the government, they still longed for the convenience that comes with living in their own house.
The Phivolcs raised the alert level 3 status in Mayon Volcano on June 8 due to its “increased tendency towards a hazardous eruption.”
Immediately after this declaration, the provincial and local governments in Albay evacuated their residents living within the 6- to 7-km radius of the volcano.
Felicitas Moratalla, 84, also a resident of Tandarora village, was also happy with the decision of the disaster officials in sending them home.
“I can rest better now. No more sacrifices for me and the rest of the evacuees,” Moratalla said in a separate interview, also on Saturday.
Tandarora village chief Marites Alcala was grateful to those who contributed to meet their needs while staying at the evacuation center.
“Finally, our lives will be back to normal and hoping Mt. Mayon will also stop from [being restive],” Alcala said in an interview.
Always on standby
Garcia said the decampment of the evacuees would make the opening of classes on Aug. 29 go smoother for students and parents.
“We don’t want the education process to be hampered or affected, particularly if they will be using tents in conducting classes,” Garcia added.
He said the evacuees were also given food packs before leaving their temporary shelter.
Joy Maravillas, Guinobatan’s disaster risk reduction management officer, said on Saturday that they would still closely monitor the volcano amid its continuing restiveness.
“We are always on standby if there’s a need for them (residents) to be evacuated again just in case Mt. Mayon eruption worsens,” Maravillas said.
On Sunday, the effusive eruption continues in Mt. Mayon but only two volcanic earthquakes, one volcanic tremor and 124 rockfall events were recorded over the past 24-hour observation period, the Phivolcs said. INQ