Ormoc reeling from blackout, aftershocks

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Ormoc City, Leyte: Three days after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake, Ormoc City residents are beginning to recover from the trauma, but the city continues to experience aftershocks and has yet to restore its power supply.

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Mayor Richard Gomez on Sunday said “the lives of our constituents are back to normal minus the power supply. But people are reminded of their trauma as incessant aftershocks are felt from time to time.”

The blackout, which also hit Bohol and Samar islands, could last three more days, the actor-turned politician said.

“People at the Leyte Electric Cooperative 5 are still assessing the extent of damage and doing repairs as quick as possible. We expect power to resume maybe this evening or at the most in two or three days,” he said.

The quake that hit Jaro town in Leyte on Tuesday claimed the lives of two people and injured 72 others, including a female whose leg was amputated.

One of the fatalities was from Barangay Cabaog-an in Ormoc, an 18-year-old woman who was hit by falling debris. The other fatality was from the adjacent town of Kananga, which was also severely hit by the quake.

Gomez said five barangay (villages) were affected by the quake in Ormoc, with some 500 houses in need of repairs.

Yesterday, Gomez and his wife, Ormoc City Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, distributed relief goods, including sacks of rice donated by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Former Davao representative Anton Lagdameo gave cash assistance to relatives of the fatalities and those severely injured.

Representative Gomez thanked Marcos for the help, saying the Marcos family and the Romualdez family of Tacloban City were the first ones to extend assistance following the earthquake. Marcos’ mother, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, hails from Tacloban.

“Bayanihan (community) spirit is inherent to Filipinos especially in times of calamities. We help one another,” Marcos said.

100 people taken to hospital
More than 100 persons were rushed to the Ormoc District Hospital following the quake. A total of 31 adults were admitted, mostly hit by falling debris.

As of Sunday, two of the 100 were still confined at the hospital, namely Melody Rodina, 16, who was complaining of head trauma, and Joel Quititar, 17, whose right leg was on cast after the motorcycle he was driving went wayward.

Arnolfo Montesclaros, 45, a janitor at city hall and a former overseas Filipino worker in war-torn Syria, said he was mopping the floor of the multi-purpose hall on the second floor of the three-story building when the earthquake happened.

“It was very strong. Parts of the sprinklers fell and the tiles of the flooring cracked. I also went under the table,” he told The Manila Times.

Kimberly Urboda, 27, who works at the information office of city hall, said she worried over her mother when the tremor occurred.

“My 63-year-old mother told me that two brownouts preceded the jolt and she ran to the guardhouse of the church for safety,” she told The Times.

Mayor Gomez sought safety under his office table when the quake struck at 4:03 p.m. of July 6. City hall workers also ducked and covered, the standard response to a quake.

But pandemonium took place at New Ormoc City National High School when students ran, yelling and crying as they rushed to the nearby city hall for fear of a tsunami. There was no tsunami however, as a result of the quake that was tectonic in origin.

Ormoc airport resumes operations
The Ormoc airport resumed operations on Saturday after a “thorough inspection” by aviation officials following the magnitude 6.5 earthquake, said an official of the Department of Transportation.

“24 hours after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit the province of Leyte…the Department of Transportation, through the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, was able to complete thorough inspection of Ormoc Airport, including its runway and passenger terminal building,” Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Tamayo said in a statement on Saturday.

“The painting of displaced threshold markings to warn aircraft of the damaged portions of the runway was also completed,” Tamayo added.

The quake, which struck 8 kilometers southwest of the town of Jaro, damaged the airport’s runway surface, prompting aviation authorities to close it temporarily.

WITH REICELENE JOY N. IGNACIO

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