Tacloban remains shuttered as it feels ‘Ruby’s’ pre-landfall lashes
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—Tacloban City remained shuttered on Saturday as it braced for the landfall of Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit), which is expected on Saturday night in the nearby Eastern Samar – Northern Samar area (based on the latest forecast of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration).
Malls, restaurants including Jollibee’s three branches and the newly opened McDonald’s, bakeries and stores—big and small—were closed as light to moderate steady rainfall accompanied by howling wind that can violently overturn an umbrella further threatened to grow even worse as the day wore on.
At 1:54 p.m. electricity was cut, and only hotels and houses with generators had the luxury of electrical power. TV cable was also cut.
People were marooned inside their houses, evacuation centers and hotels (richer families living in danger zone areas including those close to the sea checked in at hotels as early as Friday night). Only a few private vehicles plied the streets, and jeepneys, tricycles and buses were absolutely out of sight.
As early as Thursday, residents lugging bags of clothes started to go to evacuation centers like school buildings, most of them on their own.
Some families in the evacuation centers monitored typhoon updates through their radio sets. Others prayed that Ruby spare the city, still reeling from the devastation of Yolanda.
“We cannot do anything about it except to pray and ask the Lord for his intervention. We could do nothing but pray,” said Dina Villanueva, 27, mother of two children.
She said having to stay in an evacuation center again was a “hellish nightmare.”
By Friday afternoon, bakery shelves were cleaned out of breads, which residents and visitors alike thought were a handy substitute for rice. Food shelves in supermarkets were in similar condition. In the absence of restaurants where they could buy ready-to-eat viands and rice, some people who could not buy bread resorted to eating instant cup noodles for supper on Friday as some sari-sari (variety) stores kindly provided them hot water.
Soldiers and policemen were on guard in commercial establishments including the Robinsons Place mall in barangay (village) Tabuan in this city, to prevent a repeat of the widespread lootings in the city a day after Supertyphoon ‘‘Yolanda’’ (international name: Haiyan) struck on Nov. 8 last year. One armored personnel carrier was spotted at the entrance of Robinsons on Friday morning.
No one dared to go out as winds became stronger and rains began to pound this city, considered ground zero of Yolanda’s destruction.
A press briefing late Friday morning in Tacloban’s city hall—presided over by Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who also chairs the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council—revealed that over 6,200 families had evacuated to at least 27 active designated shelters, although 70 evacuation centers had been prepared in the city.
“We’re focused on our job,” Romualdez told a troop of reporters, many of them from foreign news agencies. The reporters had come to Tacloban, considered the Ground Zero of Yolanda’s wrath, after Eastern Visayas, where Tacloban is, was initially identified as the area where Ruby would land. With reports from Joey Gabieta/INQUIRER VISAYAS
Photos from Rick Alberto/INQUIRER.net
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