780 families in need of aid

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Monday, December 16, 2013

THE families in five barangays of Cebu City who lost their homes to three fires in five days will be getting financial assistance from the City Government.

Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) chief Dr. Ester Concha said they will be giving P10,000 each to families whose houses were destroyed and P5,000 to those whose houses were damaged.

She hopes the cash aid will be released this week.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Fire Marshall Rogelio Bongabong said the three fires may have been caused by misuse of electricity, but added that investigators still have to confirm this.

Fires wiped out almost P3 million worth of properties in Barangays Carreta, Kinasang-an, Parian, Quiot and Tejero between Tuesday and Saturday last week. Bongabong said these should remind the public not to be complacent with their electrical connections.

Another fire in Mandaue City last Friday brought to nearly 2,800 the number of persons left homeless by the four blazes.

Concha, the DSWS chief, said her office will be processing the financial assistance for the fire survivors today. The cash aid will be charged to the City’s P202-million calamity fund for this year.

In Cebu City alone, the fires have displaced 780 families or 2,790 individuals and razed at least 503 houses. Last Tuesday, a fire hit Carreta and Tejero, affecting 440 families or 1,585 individuals. It gutted 250 houses.

A day after, another fire hit Barangays Quiot and Kinasang-an. In Quiot, the blaze displaced 220 families or 880 individuals and affected 170 houses. The fire in Kinasang-an displaced 102 families or 233 individuals and destroyed 83 houses. Last Saturday, a fire hit Barangay Parian and left 18 families or some 91 individuals homeless. They are mostly renters and lodgers.

While the cash aid has not yet been released, Concha said DSWS has already distributed disaster kits to the fire victims.

The kits contain mats, pails and underwear, among others.

Particularly for the latest fire in Parian, Concha said the DSWD has started giving out food packs to the survivors. As previously practiced, DSWS will provide food to the affected families for three days.

As for the housing materials, Concha said they will be distributing these once the re-blocking in the fire site will be finished.

Mayor Michael Rama wants to implement re-blocking in the affected areas so that firefighters will have easier access in case another fire will occur.

Rama will be meeting with the Visayan Electric Co. (Veco) today to discuss the power situation in Cebu. He said he will discuss, among others, the problem of illegal power tapping, one of the common causes of fire in the city.

In a separate phone interview, Marshall Bongabong said electrical wiring should be carefully installed. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks should also be checked for leaks.

“Buy Christmas lights that are resistant to plastic. Dapat kanang dili moinit pag-ayo. Do not use substandard Christmas lights,” he said.

Unplug all appliances that are not in use, he added.

“I hope the public will be more careful. Presence of mind is needed. Dili dapat mag careless,” he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 16, 2013.

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