23,755 families spending New Year at evacuation centers

Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star
23,755 families spending New Year at evacuation centers

A resident smiles as she walks home with relief supplies being distributed to storm-affected villages of Lanao del Norte Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017 in southern Philippines. Tropical Storm Tembin unleashed flash floods that swept away people and houses and set off landslides in the southern Philippines. AP

MANILA, Philippines — Around 23,755 families or 111,641 individuals in eight regions are likely to spend New Year’s Day in evacuation centers after losing their homes to widespread flooding and landslides spawned by Tropical Storm Vinta.

If not seeking refuge in government-run evacuation centers, they are currently staying with their relatives, reports from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) showed.

President Duterte yesterday ordered state agencies to speed up efforts to restore normalcy in areas hit by Vinta (international name Tembin). 

“I can assure you we will fast-track everything… Aside from human suffering, the most important really is to rehabilitate the agricultural sector immediately,” the President said during the meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Tubod, Lanao del Norte. 

“The rule in crisis management is to return as soon as possible to normalcy. That is really the objective. As soon as possible we have to go back to normalcy,” he added. 

He said he has instructed housing chief Eduardo del Rosario to take charge of the rebuilding of Leyte, which was devastated by Tropical Storm Urduja (international name Kai-tak), and Marawi, which was ravaged by the clashes between government forces and terrorists. 

“Sadly…we will end 2017 with a bang of so many deaths of the Filipinos, ranging from careless to accidents and the typhoons. There seems to be a sorrow prevailing in the country today and it was not already a good Christmas Day for all of us, thinking that there are persons suffering,” the President said.

Duterte said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and other officials would visit the typhoon-struck areas to determine what help the national government can offer to affected residents. 

Bad weather and thick clouds prevented Duterte from visiting Marawi where he was supposed to personally oversee the turnover of 500 units of transitory shelters for families that were displaced by the recent siege.

“Nasarhan kami. Di talaga makapasok sa Marawi kahit anong gawin namin (We were shut out. We couldn’t get into Marawi no matter what we did),” the President said.

Duterte said the helicopter had to traverse the coastal area for them to safely reach the next place he had to visit.

“I could even see the still flooded area of Salvador, Lanao del Sur on the way here,” Duterte said. 

The President said he had to proceed to Cagayan de Oro City where he would meet with Mayor Oscar Moreno and other local officials.

Cagayan de Oro and nearby towns were among the hardest hit by Vinta last week.

Meanwhile, most parts of country, particularly the Visayas and Mindanao, will continue to receive “above normal” rains that could trigger more flash floods and landslides at least until the first quarter of 2018 due to a weak La Niña condition, the state weather bureau warned.

Relief, rehab on

The DSWD continued to extended financial assistance to the families of the victims of Vinta, with P12.77 million worth of relief assistance already extended as of yesterday in the eight affected regions. – Alexis Romero, Helen Flores, Sheila Crisostomo, Edith Regalado, Rainier Allan Ronda, Danessa Rivera, Edu Punay, Janvic Mateo, Louise Maureen Simeon, Lino dela Cruz, Celso Amor, Paolo Romero, Pia Lee-Brago

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