6 months after ‘Yolanda,’ Tacloban still struggling to move on

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A family rests under the ship washed ashore by typhoon Yolanda. PHOTO BY ROBERTZON RAMIREZ

A family rests under the ship washed ashore by typhoon Yolanda. PHOTO BY ROBERTZON RAMIREZ

IT has been almost six months since Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated entire communities in Central Visayas but thousands of families still languish in evacuation centers or schools.

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Things are far from normal in Tacloban City, Leyte. Less than 50 percent of business establishments have reopened. And because of the huge amount needed to construct houses for families left homeless by the typhoon, local officials are appealing for help.

Mariya Lagman, shelter coordinator of the city government of Tacloban, said the local government does not have the money to build houses for thousands of Yolanda survivors.

She added that P500 million is needed to house at least 10,000 families who are temporarily residing at the seashores and evacuation centers.

Lagman said 770 families opted to build temporary houses along the seashores, 500 families are in evacuation centers or schools and 3,000 families are living in makeshift shelters.

The city government has started to construct more than 500 temporary shelters in identified relocation sites, as well as more than 300 transitional shelters in Barangay New Kawayan.

Also, some Christian organizations committed to provide 1,000 shelters to typhoon survivors.

But Lagman said these are not enough.

“We still need at least P500 million for our shelter program,” she stressed.

Lagman noted that the city government will need 45 hectares of land as relocation site for families living in danger zones.

She explained that the city government is presenting the data because they feel like they have been forgotten by the national government.

The Philippine Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross said thousands of families need help.

“Up to this day, we can still hear the echoes of the suffering, the cries for help,” said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the Philippine Red Cross.

Yolanda, the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall, hit central Philippines on November 8 last year, leaving 6,293 dead, 1,061 missing and about 4.1 million people displaced, Philippine Red Cross figures showed.

An international humanitarian effort, however, ensured that the supply of food, water and medical services was stabilizing in affected areas but Pang said more than 8,000 families whose homes were destroyed were still huddling in evacuation centers.

“We know the recovery will be a long road. It could take several years,” said Marcel Fortier, the head of delegation in the Philippines for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Difficult
Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez said it has been difficult to rise from the disaster.

“In terms of recovery in the city, we are still at 20 percent. We just finished the rainy season,” he told reporters.

The mayor also explained that inconsistent weather conditions in Tacloban and the failure of most businesses to reopen hinder development in the city.

He, however, remained optimistic that Tacloban will be back to normal within a year.

“We are trying to target a year, I know that this is difficult,” Romualdez said.

He was thankful that some of the biggest companies in the city had already reopened like San Miguel Corp., Coca-Cola and Robinson’s Place.

The mayor said recovery of the private sector “might take a little longer” since insurance companies are yet to pay local establishments that suffered huge losses. Lack of manpower and shortage of construction materials are also huge obstacles to the city’s return to normal.

Romualdez said the city received assistance from some international organizations but the money is not enough to meet needs of typhoon-affected families.

Japan helps
On Monday, the Philippine government received additional donation from Japan for municipalities badly hit by Yolanda.

Kenji Kosaka, president of Japan-Philippines Parliamentary Friendship League and secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, announced turnover of 20 emergency vehicles to Senate President Franklin Drilon.

The donation included used fire trucks and ambulances.

Kosaka said the vehicles can be used during emergencies.

The Japanese official extended his deepest sympathies to those affected by the typhoon.

Drilon, President of the Philippines-Japan Parliamentarians Association, thanked the Japanese government for its assistance to the typhoon victims.

WITH REPORTS FROM JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND AFP

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6 Comments

  1. Shortage of manpower? All Hands Volunteers (who I’ve just worked with in Tacloban for a month) have the ability to project manage and a waiting list of people, from all over the world, lined up to build transitional – debatably permanent – housing. Take them up on their offer; these guys know how to ‘build back better’.

  2. Even before YOLANDA tragedy, EASTERN VISAYAS (Samar and Leyte Island) region are the poorest provinces in the Philippines (Club 20 poverty region in the country).

    Resulta ito ng ilang dekadang trahedya (50s – 90s), sang MAN MADE CALAMITY… .

    Productivity rate and per capita income is the lowest in the country, migration is among the highest, criminality and insurgencies exist, POLITICAL DYNASTY, OLIGARCHY and PRIVATE ARMIES are widespread..

    Ano pa ang aasahan mo sa kahihinatnan ng mga WARAY..

  3. Noel Guizona on

    I believe there are huge amount of funds donated by the different countries. What happened to those funds? Those fund are intended to be utilized for the development of Tacloban City. The COA should check and audit those funds and should be used a soon as possible for the victims of this tragedy.

  4. what happened to the cash donations of 100s millions of dollars
    from various countries & orgs.?

  5. Ako si Pnoy na Tang on

    Considering na maraming marami ang tumulong sa mga taong ito; pero wala pa ring nangyayari kasi may tanga tayong gobyerno – simple lang mga pare ko ang dahilan…tanga ang administration ni Noynoy!

  6. Kung matino sana ang mga taong nasa pwesto, hindi maghihirap ang mga YOLANDA victims. Sobra-sobra ang na-received na pera at relief goods para sa mga typhoon victims pero hindi naman ginagamit sa tamang paraan. GOD kayo na po sana ang bahala, tulungan po ninyo ang mga kaawa-awang typhoon victims, amen.