RESIDENTS of Masantol town in Pampanga have gotten used to evacuating themselves to safer grounds during heavy rains as precaution to possible flash floods and storm surges.
Some of the affected residents move to their relatives' houses but most are taking temporary refuge at the nearest public evacuation centers dedicated by the local government.
In the past years, up to four families can stay inside a room with only their sleeping mat separating each other at night time. This scenario, however, is not allowed anymore today due to threat of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) transmission, which is heightened by the more contagious Delta variant.
According to Mayor Danilo Guintu, all health protocols are strictly being enforced on all evacuation centers in town to prevent the further spread of the fatal virus in the community.
"It is already a burden to our kabalens to temporarily evacuate and leave their houses and all belongings in the midst of the flood, so we are trying our best to give them a peace of mind by ensuring their protection from Covid-19," he said.
Temporarily, the local government has utilized the school classrooms in Barangays Malauli, Bebe Anac and Sagrada Familia as the evacuation centers were turned into isolation facilities for Covid-19 patients.
"Fortunately, this turned out to be a better situation since we can properly practice social distancing by separating our evacuees per classroom," Guintu said.
The mayor said that only two families with a maximum of 10 persons are allowed to stay inside a classroom.
Evacuees are also advised to keep the windows and doors open for good air ventilation, while regular wearing of face masks and observance of social distancing is strictly enforced.
"We are also constantly reminding them to keep their surroundings clean, practice proper hygiene and keep the public areas such as toilet sanitized at all times," he said.
As of Monday, August 2, Guintu said they have not recorded any case of Covid-19 from the 115 families or 464 individuals who were still on evacuation centers.
He urged remaining evacuees to protect themselves from the virus by following the health protocols in place.
"I understand that this is another challenge that you need to endure but your preemptive evacuation and following of the health protocols will keep you safe from flood and Covid-19," Guintu said.