CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – This capital of Misamis Oriental, economic and commercial hub of northern Mindanao, has virtually become a tent city following the assembly of several hundreds of tents courtesy of other countries even as the health of both the flashfloods victims and those who extend help are suffering the Leptospirosis outbreak.
The city government here led by embattled Mayor Vicente Emano and the Rotary Club International have jointly set up ready-made tents from the U.S. at the 60+ hectares of sitio Calaanan, barangay Canitoan, about eight kilometers from city proper.
But hundreds of evacuees from nearby barangay Kauswagan make concrete Kauswagan Bridge as their temporary dwellings by setting up makeshift shelters.
In an interview by this writer, city councilor Ian Mark Nacaya, who is also a Rotarian himself, said that about 408 tents, which he preferably called “Shelter Box” were already ready for occupancy.
In an ocular visit of this place, hundreds of survivors of storm “Sendong” have already started to arrive to occupy the “Shelter boxes” assigned to them.
In the City Central School, a stone-throw away from the Pelaez sports center along the main Velez street, similar tents have been set up for the hundreds of victims taking shelter here temporarily. Colored white tents courtesy of the WFP UNHRD Malaysia (Subang, Malaysia) are being set up in this school. The school and Pelaez Sports Center also serve as evacuation centers.
In a separate interview at his office, Central School principal Porferio Pabinit said that the tents serve the purpose to help decongest the school he heads. He explained reports that there were hitches in the resumption of classes last January 3 when this writer visited him, saying that the school was still able to manage the worsening situation because those staying inside the classrooms use the school’s mini-gym and would go back to the classrooms after the afternoon and evening classes.
But the circumstances are still hounding the different schools being used as evacuation centers when regular classes resumed last Monday (Jan. 9, 2012) since most of the evacuees are certainly expected to still stay put in classrooms. Tents may not be enough for thousands of homeless in the aftermath of the storm.
In a visit at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, hundreds of patients are affected by the Leptospirosis outbreak that the hospital can hardly accommodate, some of them are being treated in the hallways.
Some 200 patients have already been treated by the said hospital alone, a relative of a victim disclosed. Other hospitals like those owned by the city in barangay Carmen, as well as private ones are also treating more victims of the ailment. It was expected that the number of victims may swell in the coming days. Eight have been confirmed dead due to Leptospirosis. Most of those affected are children.
The Department of Health reportedly declared an outbreak of Leptospirosis in the city as patients, including those who helped the victims, are increasing in number. Non-victims of the typhoon are affected when they step into the muddy and murky waters to extend assistance in the rescue of their relatives at the height and after the storm hit the city on Dec. 16 and 17, 2011.
Symptoms of the disease: after a few days, infected person will experience headache, fever, chills, nausea/vomiting, jaundice, hemoptysis, dyspnea (difficulty in breathing), hematuria (blood in urine), skin discoloration, among others. Leptospirosis is acquired from the wastes of rodents, such as rats, among others. Meanwhile, a lot of Boholanos who are already settled here were not spared from nature’s wrath. They, too, have their story to tell in overcoming the ordeal.