5 hours of ‘Yolanda’ pounding Daanbantayan town
DAANBANTAYAN – For five hours, wind and rain pounded this northern town 120 kilometers from Cebu City, leaving residents, who are used to strong storms, in disbelief.
Gusts toppled century-old acacia trees in the plaza and houses, leaving thousands homeless. Power and phone signals cut off.
“Naa man sad ko sa pagkahitabo sa Ruping pero mas kusog ni nga bagyo (I was here when Ruping happened in 1990 but this is stronger),” said Lando Layos, a resident in his 50s.
Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ made landfall in this first-class municipality at 9:40 a.m. on Friday.
Mayor Augusto Corro said he had never seen a more devastating typhoon.
In the municipal hall, where the mayor and disaster team workers waited out the storm, the wind sounded like non-stop pounding and screeching.
Jalousies on the second floor ended up broken including the full glass window of the mayor’s office.
Gusts dragged parked motorcycles and a Cebu Daily News pickup panel truck a few feet. Roofing sheets were seen flying in the wind.
Ten-year-old Rovie Jan Monterde and her younger sister Roxanne Jane hugged each other tightly inside the Daanbantayan Presidencia (town hall) where they and several hundred others were also holed up from 8 a.m. to 12 noon last Friday.
The girls earlier got separated from their mother who had asked them to get plates from their coastal house.
The two sat on a chair against the wall, and covered their ears.
“Ganahan na mi mubalik ni mama (We want to go home to mama),” said Rovie Jane.
By 10 a.m., the ceiling of the nearby sports complex collapsed, causing evacuees there to run outside.
To guide them, rescue workers instructed them to hold on to a thick rope, because the wind was strong enough to carry off a small child. By noon, they had been transferred to another building.
No deaths were recorded as of Saturday. Fourteen persons were brought to the district hospital for treatment after being wounded by broken glass and G.I. roofing blown off houses.
About 10,000 residents of coastal barangays were evacuated to school buildings and the town’s sports complex in front of the municipal hall.
The storm easily uprooted century-old acacia trees in the town plaza and knocked over palm trees and electric posts along the road to nearby towns, isolating Daanbantayan. (As of yesterday , Medellin Mayor Ricky Ramirez said road access to Medellin has been cleared.)
Winds whipped off roofs and reduced over a thousand houses to wooden planks.
Residents like 48-year-old Soledad Doble scrambled for shelter after their homes were flattened.
She tried to recover a few of her family belongings from their house that was flattened by “Yolanda” the next day.
“Lisud lagi kaayo mi mga kabus. Asa man mi mangita ug kwarta pantukod ug bag-o nga balay? Sakit gyud pag-ayo. (It’s so hard for the poor like us. Where will we find money to build a new house? It hurts us very much),” Doble said.
But Doble said she is thankful since her husband and seven-year-old son were safe.
“We’ll just stay with a relative. We’ll try to build a new house in two months. Anyway, there’s wood here that can still be used,” she said.
The town’s plaza, once filled with decorative lamp posts, flowering plants and trees, was left in shambles.
Fallen acacia trees lay in front of the Daanbantayan church.
By Friday noon, power and communications were down.
Isolated by the storm, Cebu Daily News photo editor Tonee Despojo and this reporter had to abandon the company’s vehicle and walk 16 kilometers to the next town of Medellin to catch a bus to Bogo City at 4 p.m. since roads were blocked by fallen trees and power lines.
The team ended up in barangay Curva, Medellin town and rode the bus to Bogo City.
“Our calamity fund of P7 million is definitely not enough for this damage. I prefer to call this devastation,” said Mayor Corro.
He said would ask for assistance from the Cebu provincial government. However, he couldn’t reach Gov. Hilario Davide III on the phone as, lines were down on Friday.
As of 9 p.m. last night, no phone calls could still get through Daanbantayan town.
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