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Naval's bishop-elect seeks help for TS Urduja victims

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — Monsignor Rex Ramirez, bishop-elect of  Naval, has called for continued help to families severely affected by tropical storm Urduja that devastated Eastern Visayas, particularly Biliran island-province.

Naval, capital town of Biliran, along with other interior towns such as Almeria, suffered millions worth of damage in infrastructure due to devastating flashfloods and landslides.

The incessant moderate to heavy rain, brought about by TS Urduja, softened the soil in affected places causing mudslides that killed at least 40 persons in Eastern Visayas, seven of whom were in Naval and four in Almeria.

Urduja also left hundreds of families homeless and isolated from other communities after the bridges linking them to other towns were damaged or collapsed.

Caritas Palo, the humanitarian arm of the Archdiocese of Palo, and in collaboration with the Diocese of Bilitran spent Christmas distributing relief goods to survivors of Urduja, especially in isolated areas.

Ramirez, who visited Naval a few days ago, was however confident that the people there, despite the devastation, still do not lose hope. "In this season of Christmas, despite the calamities that happened, we could say that there is no darkness that overcomes the light. Our Christian hope and joy is not extinguished by calamities," he said.

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Ramirez said that the things that could not take away man's hope is the support and cooperation of all, and the struggle to avoid similar harm to happen once more. He foresees relocation of displaced families as the next great need, perceiving that most of the survivors will not anymore return to their houses that landslides and flashfloods had destroyed.

The bishop-elect said that, for now, the survivors' immediate need are basic household items, including eating utensils, and most importantly water.

"Water is the most important and immediate need of the survivors especially that their source of potable was the one severely affected making their water supply scarce and contaminated," Ramirez told The Freeman.

Ramirez, will be installed as bishop of Naval next month following his episcopal ordination on January 9 at the Cathedral of Our Lord's Transfiguration in Palo, Leyte.

Manila Archbishop and Caritas Internationalis President Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, and Palo Archbishop John Du are among the prelates who are confirmed to grace the episcopal ordination of Ramirez.

Hundreds of priests from Eastern Visayas and other parts of the country are likewise expected to witness this event on this day of grace for the Archdiocese of Palo. (FREEMAN)

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