‘Basyang’ reawakens ‘Yolanda’ fear in Leyte


STORM Basyang forced 18,000 people to leave their homes as it dumped rain in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year.

Basyang is expected to be out of the Philippine area of responsibility Sunday.

People in Tacloban City in Leyte province met the storm with vigilance and dread as Basyang’s rains brought back memories of the time in November when Yolanda’s monster winds and storm surge left thousands of people dead and the city in ruins.

Authorities said 18,518 people took shelter in 74 evacuation centers in Regions 7, 8 and Caraga.

Bernabe Basiano, 30, said the people went to evacuation centers when strong rains began to lash Leyte province on Friday.

“Upon seeing that the water level was rising, we immediately went to the designated evacuation centers. We panicked because we feared that another Yolanda would hit us,” Basiano said.

Tacloban Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin said the storm brought terror to Yolanda survivors staying in temporarily housing along coastal areas.

Yaokasin said Yolanda taught “a lot of discipline” to the survivors.

“The people have learned a lot from what happened when Yolanda hit our place. In fact, we did not have a hard time convincing them to evacuate during our round-ups. We saw people living in the coastal areas evacuating even before our alarm,” Yaokasin said.

“But we could hear the children crying and shaking in fear because of the traumatic memories of Yolanda,” he added.

He said over 10,000 Yolanda survivors temporarily living at the tent city in Tacloban evacuated to the Rizal Central School after their tents were swamped by knee-deep floods.
“Our job became a lot easier evacuating people now,” he said.

Displaced families
Director Rey Gozon, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region 8 director, said Basyang displaced 2,020 families in Eastern Visayas. There were no reports of casualties.

The OCD also reported landslides at Sitio Tambu, Barangay Lungsodaan, Padre Burgos, and knee-deep floods in Southern Leyte, five barangays in the municipality of Liloan, nine barangays in Maasin, City, 2 barangays in Libagon, and three in Macrohon.

Danny Avellana, 52, a businessman in Inopacan, Southern Leyte, said floodwaters breached a dike.

“The rains were not as heavy as Yolanda’s but the dike gave way so we got flooded and our appliances just floated off. But we are still okay,” Avellana said.

The Manila International Airport Authority said bad weather cancelled at least 54 flights from Manila to the Visayas and Mindanao.

Deputy Presidential Spokesman Abigail Valte said President Benigno Aquino 3rd ordered the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Center (NDRRMC) and the local government units to help to the people affected by Basyang.

The government allotted P104.30 million worth of emergency relief resources, as well as 48,044 food packs, for the victims.

“The DSWD is on standby and is ready to provide additional food and non-food items if the supply of local government units needs to be augmented. These are for Regions 5 to 10,” Valte said, referring to Department of Social Welfare and Development.

In another development, the death toll from storm Agaton last January has reached 70, the NDRRMC said.

It said 86 people were injured while nine remain missing.

With reports from  Benjie l. Vergara,  Llanesca T. Panti  and Anthony Vargas


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