CEBU City is recovering from last year’s magnitude 7.2 earthquake, but it is a slow, challenging process. And the City has paid for earthquake-response projects without any funds from the National Government so far.
“All the funds used for the rehabilitation were taken from the City’s own funds,” said Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella.
Damage caused by the earthquake reached an estimated P331.68 million in Cebu City, the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC) reported.
Two days after the earthquake last year, LDRRMC operations officer Alvin Santillana said the amount covered the cost of the damaged infrastructure, as well as the costs of evacuating families from their homes and temporarily moving patients from hospitals.
It also included the cost of the City Government’s fielding of ambulances and volunteers who responded to emergencies after the quake.
A total of 50 structures were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake in Cebu City, Santillana said. These included schools, houses, establishments and barangay halls.
Records from the City Accounting Office showed that the City has disbursed a total of P6,330,500 for its relief operations, repair of damaged public offices and materials for the rehabilitation phase, among others.
No help from the national government has reached Cebu City, so far, Labella said.
Using the City’ funds, City Hall’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) spent at least P2 million for the meals, construction materials and cash given to survivors immediately after the quake, said DSWS Chief Ester Concha.
City Hall’s buildings were damaged, too.
Among the offices the Oct. 15, 2013 quake damaged were the DSWS, City Task Force on Street Children, City Traffic Operations Management, City Agriculture Office, City Health Department, the Public Library, Department of Engineering and Public Works, Department of Manpower Development and Placement, Equipment Repair Maintenance and Management, Market Division, City Abattoir, Motor Pool, Parks and Playground Commission, Prevention Restoration Order Beautification and Enhancement, and Community Scouts.
Other public buildings like the Pasil Fish Market and several public schools were also damaged.
Plaster cracks surfaced in the main building of the Cebu City Hall.
The earthquake served as an eye-opener for Cebu City’s officials and the public, said City Councilor Dave Tumulak, who also chairs the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC).
Because of the disaster, the City has strengthened its disaster preparedness and awareness programs to prevent massive damage when the next calamity strikes.
The City Government established a command and control center (C3) after the earthquake to connect all incident reports and responses from all 80 barangays, Tumulak said.
C3 has also improved communication among those working in rescue and relief operations by procuring more hand-held radios. Tumulak said these handheld radios are important because right after disasters, there’s a chance that cell and landline connections may be temporarily down.
All barangays were also asked to acquire hand-held radios.
The C3 also dispatches ambulances and emergency medical services, and the City has placed at least 10 ambulances in different barangays.
The CCDRRMC also purchased P20 million worth of rescue and lifesaving equipment.
For the Office of the Building Official, the challenge is to impose more strictly the National Building Code, to ensure the city’s infrastructure is able to withstand powerful quakes.