Calamity declared in Cebu

CEBU. Typhoon Ruby caused damage to some of these houses in a coastal area in Bogo City. (Sun.Star Cebu photo/Allan Cuizon)

CEBU CITY (Updated) -- The Cebu Provincial Board (PB) declared the entire province under a state of calamity on Monday to speed up the Capitol’s access to P77.5 million in calamity funds.

While Ruby (Hagupit) headed further north, non-government and civil society organizations in Cebu fanned out to assess how the weather had affected the towns, particularly 12 that were hit hardest.

“Despite the concerned local governments’ advance preparation, property damage still happened to some areas of the Province of Cebu, particularly the northern part/islands of the province,” read a part of the resolution sponsored by Provincial Board Member Peter John Calderon and co-sponsored by PB Member Christopher Baricuatro.

The PB approved it on mass motion during Monday's regular session. The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) also visited the northern towns of Cebu on Monday to assess the situation in communities Ruby affected.

Allen Froilan Cabaron of the OCD-Central Visayas said her office has listed only three injured persons in the region, a low figure that she attributed to the early evacuations.

Weakened

The OCD-Central Visayas listed 52,475 families or 232,000 individuals who were still in evacuation centers on Monday.

“Because of the lesson we’ve learned from typhoon Yolanda, the people now know how to listen to the local government units and are more cooperative,” Cabaron said.

Ruby weakened into a tropical storm after leaving at least 23 people dead and forcing more than a million into shelters. It had maximum sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of 100 kph when it made landfall Monday night in San Juan, Batangas.

Eight non-government and civil society organizations are helping Capitol officials and workers assess the damage in 12 areas: Tabogon, Daanbantayan, Medellin, San Remigio, Sta. Fe, Bantayan, Madridejos, San Francisco, Poro, Tudela, Pilar and Bogo City.

They are using a standard form (called the “72 Hours Multi Cluster/Sector Initial Rapid Assessment”) to report the damage done to houses, agriculture, water systems and facilities for health, education and power, among others.

An estimated 142,070 evacuees were recorded all over the province. As many as 17,000 evacuated in Bantayan Island, one of two areas in Cebu where Yolanda made landfall last year.

Relief

Assisting the Capitol in the rapid assessment are workers from Islamic Relief Worldwide, Project Hope, Action Aid, Disaster Tech Lab, International Labor Organization, Alternative to Development, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and International Organization for Migration.

Relief goods were also sent Monday morning to Bantayan and Camotes islands, while the assessment was ongoing.

Madridejos, Sta. Fe and Bantayan towns on Bantayan Island received a truckload each of relief goods, said Capitol Public Information Officer Ethel Natera.

Each truck carried 150 sacks of rice and 150 boxes of assorted groceries, including noodles, sardines and bottled water.

The Naval Forces Central ferried relief goods to San Francisco, Poro, Tudela and Pilar town Monday, Natera said. It carried 248 sacks of rice, 100 boxes of sardines, 100 boxes of noodles, 400 boxes of mineral water and 788 blankets.

Officials expressed relief that the typhoon had not caused major damage in Tacloban and other central cities that were devastated by Yolanda/Haiyan.

The storm was expected to blow away Wednesday into the South China Sea.

Lives, power

At least two persons died in Cebu as a result of Ruby, which did not make landfall in northern Cebu but still unleashed fierce gusts and rain.

The two who died were Jimmy Saldo Cardente, 14, of Barangay Cerdena Malabuyoc; and a certain Baring, who was in his late 50s, in Bogo City.

Cardente accidentally touched the pipe of a service wire that was detached from its post and severe burns.

Baring, for his part, reportedly refused to be evacuated from his makeshift house.

After a tense weekend spent waiting for Ruby, many of the evacuees have gone back home.

Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III also announced Monday that electricity in the main areas of San Remigio, Compostela, Carmen, Catmon, Sogod, Borbon, Tabogon and Danao City was already back.

According to the Cebu Provincial Government’s official Facebook page, the Cebu Electric Cooperative (Cebeco) 2 has repaired and energized power transmission lines along the highway in the northern towns up to Barangay Poblacion of Daanbantayan as of 4 p.m.

The repair of power lines in the barangay level will reportedly start today.

Faster

The damage Ruby caused in Cebu is a far cry from what Yolanda did, but Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said placing the Province under a state of calamity will allow emergency purchases, such as additional relief goods.

About P30 million of the remaining P77.5 million in calamity funds are for “quick response” operations, while the rest are for disaster preparedness.

“Sa una paspas kaayo ang mga NGOs, mga pribado nga sector, karon nakabantay mo nag-una gyud ang local governments niini (Before, the NGOs and private sector responded more quickly. This time, you must have noticed that local governments led the response),” Tribunalo said.

In a press statement, the United States Agency for International Development, its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the US military contacted their counterparts in the Philippine Government to offer their help.

“Assessment teams are available to augment the US Embassy’s capabilities in monitoring the storm’s impact and coordinating delivery of emergency assistance with government agencies and humanitarian organizations on the ground,” the US Embassy in Manila said. (FMG/OCP/JTR/With AP/Sun.Star Cebu)
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