Victims in Antique, Capiz cry for help
As national attention has focused on storm-battered Tacloban City, the cries for help are getting louder from survivors in less known towns that also suffered the brunt of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Antique, Capiz and Eastern Samar.
At least 18 municipalities in Antique need not only relief aid but also assistance in rebuilding destroyed houses, public buildings, and infrastructure, recovering from crop losses, and in restoring the livelihood of residents, said Broderick Train, executive officer of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).
Seven people died and 127 others were injured, while 16 remained missing, according to a Nov. 18 report of the PDRRMO.
The province has requested P739 million in assistance from the national government, including P10,000 each for 14,528 houses destroyed and P5,000 each for 31,271 others damaged.
A day after howling winds flattened his house, Carlo Jurilla put up another home using salvaged galvanized iron sheets and leaves from fallen coconut trees.
“We have a perfect view of the stars when we lie down at night,” the 33-year-old fish vendor said in jest, referring to the holes and gaps in the roof of the 5×5-foot shanty in Barangay (village) Malabor, which serves as home for him and his wife, Ritchel, and their two children aged 12 and 2 years old.
“But it’s a problem when it rains,” he said.
Malabor, the most populated village in Tibiao town with 3,359 residents, was among the worst hit by Yolanda on Nov. 8. A total of 377 houses were destroyed and 266 damaged, according to the barangay chair, Noel Julian.
Twice, Tibiao, Barbaza, Culasi, Laua-an and other northern towns of Antique were hit by strong winds.
“The first time, the winds came from the north and 30 minutes later, they blew from the south,” Julian said.
The Jurillas were among 42 people who had sought refuge at the concrete house of their neighbor, Lita Dalumpines.
When winds blew away the roof of Dalumpines’ house, they broke its glass windows and escaped to the house of another neighbor. “The children were crying and we were all shivering from the cold,” Jurilla said.
“There were about 50 of us in the second house where we sought cover. We can only stand because there was no more space. Others hid under the table,” he said.
No one was staying at the elementary school.
Julian said the residents would rather stay in what was left of their houses. “Most people built their houses from the debris left by the typhoon … tukod-tukod lang (propped up by poles or beams,” he said.
Relief aid, especially potable water, is most needed in the less accessible island-barangays. Most of the help come from the provincial government and private donors on relief missions.
The province’s agriculture sector suffered some P123.6 million in damage, including P32.9 million in the seaweed industry in Caluya and Culasi towns.
In Barbaza town alone, damage was placed at P467.86 million, including P391 million in infrastructure and P76 million in agriculture.
“We were fortunate because no one died in our town. But we would need help in replacing destroyed fishing boats, assisting victims rebuild their houses and rehabilitating our crops,” said Barbaza Mayor Gerry Necor.
A total of 2,430 houses were destroyed and 2,026 damaged. Government structures, including the municipal covered court, public market and police station, were ruined.
Even with less national attention, Antiqueños have started to reconstruct their homes and lives.
“We would be grateful if more help will come especially in rebuilding our homes and livelihood. But we are also striving on our own, amat-amat lang (gradually),” Julian said.
In Capiz, people in the island village of Navitas in Panay town stayed for four hours on the ceilings of the village hall and a health center, hoping the water would not rise or the structure give in to the heavy weight.
The ordeal ended with all of them alive, but they went home to a new place.
“You wouldn’t be able to say which house is yours,” said fisherman Deovani Buhay, as he picked through piles of wood planks for nails that can still be used to rebuild his hut.
The scene has not changed more than a week after Yolanda hit the coastal community, about an hour’s boat ride from the mainland: nipa huts leveled, clothes and plastic basins scattered, and broken boats with outriggers.
Help first reached the island three days after the storm when a helicopter carrying relief items flew low over it. People ran to the shoreline, putting hands on their mouths to signal the need for food.
Buhay said foreign soldiers gave them seven sacks of rice and noodles, which the village chief divided equally among 130 families.
“So far, we have enough supply of food and this vast ocean is our source. We could dig up wells for water,” Buhay said, noting that it is the community’s practice to stash food ahead of typhoons.
Message on rooftop
“We understand the government also has its hands full but if you could reach them, tell them we need help to fix our boats. What good would come out of the ocean if we can’t sail,” he told the Inquirer.
In Eastern Samar, people in a village overlooking the Leyte Gulf in Salcedo town have painted “Pls help us” on the rooftop of the barangay hall.
“The people here have been shouting all the time whenever a helicopter passes by. Even if we know they can’t hear us. So the young men decided to paint the rooftop with that message,” said Epifanio Macabutas, 54, a farmer in Barangay Camanga.
Yolanda spared no house when it arrived, tearing away roofs, demolishing walls and uprooting trees. Although no fatality was reported, the villagers are struggling to find food and water.
In the entire town of Salcedo, 29 fatalities were reported after a storm surge as high as 10 meters engulfed two barangays.
Mayor Melchor Mergal placed the damage to property at P2.8 billion.
While packs of goods had already reached Camanga at least three times, the people could not find any station in Salcedo and nearby towns that sells gasoline and diesel fuel.
“We are trapped here like prisoners. We can’t go out because we have run out of gas,” Victor Llego told the Inquirer.
“Even if we want to rebuild our house now, where can we find the nails and other materials? Please help us tell the people outside to bring us fuel apart from food and water,” Llego said.
As the situation worsens, most of the families have sent their children to Manila to find work or seek out relatives and friends.
In Guiuan town, also in Eastern Samar, even volunteer doctors are having a hard time finding fuel.
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