'We have nothing left': Typhoon Odette survivors plead for help

Cheryl Baldicantos - Agence France-Presse
'We have nothing left': Typhoon Odette survivors plead for help
A floating restaurant lays on its side in Loboc town, Bohol province on December 21, 2021 after it was swept away at the height of super Typhoon Rai that devastated the province.

LOBOC, Philippines — Concepcion Tumanda picks through the mud-caked wreckage of her home on a Philippine island devastated by Typhoon Rai that left hundreds dead across the country and survivors pleading for food and water.

Rai slammed into the popular tourist destination of Bohol last Thursday, dumping torrential rain, ripping off roofs, uprooting trees and smashing fishing boats.

"The house was destroyed, everything was broken," Tumanda told AFP, weeping as she stood in the ruins of her home in the riverside town of Loboc. 

"We have nothing left." 

Bohol — known for its dive spots, rolling "Chocolate Hills" and tiny tarsier primates — was one of the hardest hit islands after Rai flooded villages and sent residents scrambling to their rooftops. 

At least 98 people lost their lives, Governor Arthur Yap said on Facebook. Another 16 were still missing. 

Yap has pleaded for President Rodrigo Duterte to send funds to buy food and water for desperate residents after electricity and communications were knocked out across the island. 

"We need food, especially rice, and water," said Giselle Toledo, whose house was swept away by floodwaters.

"We were not able to save anything. We don't know where to start our lives again."

Rai also caused widespread destruction on Siargao, Dinagat and Mindanao islands, which bore the brunt of the storm, packing winds of 195 kilometres (120 miles) per hour.

Duterte declared a state of calamity in the typhoon-hit areas, where at least 375 people were killed, freeing up funds for relief efforts and giving local officials power to control prices.

The military has deployed ships, boats, aircraft and trucks to deliver food, drinking water and medical supplies to survivors.

The Red Cross is also distributing aid, and a growing list of foreign governments have pledged millions of dollars in financial assistance. 

But local officials and residents complain it is not arriving fast enough.  

"Please speed up the relief, it's our only hope because we have nothing else," said a worker on a floating restaurant on the Loboc river that was destroyed in the storm. 

'Water is our main problem'

Lines of people waiting to refill empty water drums have formed along roadsides of Bohol, while large crowds of motorbike riders queue up at petrol pumps.

"Water is our main problem," said Jocelyn Escuerdo, who is living with her family at an evacuation centre after they were left homeless.

"The containers provided by relief agencies are not very big, just five litres, so we run out of water all the time," she said, adding they have "just enough" food for a day. 

While many people fled their homes before the storm hit, some stayed behind to look after precious livestock like chickens and pigs, as well as to protect their properties. 

Some of them were cut off by flooding and went hungry for three days, said village chief Pedro Acuna — until he paddled a boat to deliver them food. 

Nearly a week after the typhoon hit, residents are still trying to salvage furniture and other belongings from their destroyed homes.

Elderly resident Telesfora Toledo said she did not know how to start again, with "so many things that need to be fixed." 

"It was so painful looking at what was left of the house," Tumanda said, digging out plates and other kitchen items that survived the onslaught.

"We will try to repair it... if people give us wood and roofing sheets." 



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 5, 2022 - 10:42am

PAGASA says severe tropical storm Rai entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility at around 7 p.m. Tuesday. It was assigned the local name Odette.

January 5, 2022 - 10:42am

Telco giant Globe has completed network service repairs in municipalities of Anda, Dauis, Loon and Panglao in Bohol, San Fernando in Cebu, and Baybay, Albuera in Leyte, and Limasawa in Southern Leyte.

Services in Mindanao's Tagana-an, Surigao del Norte have also been restored as of January 4.

Globe says it has equipped local government units affected by Super Typhoon Odette with an M360 platform, used to send SMS updates to their offices and constituencies. "Palawan, Southern Leyte, and Cebu municipalities Naga, Cordova and the city of Mandaue, were among the first to avail of this free service," the telco says in a release.

January 5, 2022 - 10:39am

Network coverage has been restored in 98% of areas with PLDT and Smart coverage in Bacolod.

The telco group says in a release that network services have been restored in 90% of Visayas cities and municipalities affected by Super Typhoon Odette.

Earlier, PLDT-Smart reported the full restoration of services in Antique, Iloilo, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Western Samar.

January 4, 2022 - 2:44pm

The Technical Education and Skils Development Authority in the Cordillera is sending 19 trainers to Bohol, one of the provinces that was hit hard by Super Typhoon Odette last December.

The trainers will help in the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the province by giving skills training to Boholanons.

TESDA Cordillera, along with the TESDA  in the Ilocos region, will be giving free training,  particularly on construction-related courses.  The training will help in the rebuilding homes and other structures destroyed by the strongest typhoon that visited the country since Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The trainers are from the Provincial Training Centers of TESDA Kalinga, TESDA Mountain Province, TESDA Abra, TESDA Apayao, and TESDA Ifugao.  There are four trainers for Electrical Installation and Maintenance, nine trainers for Carpentry, and six trainers  for Masonry. — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao

December 28, 2021 - 1:39pm

The Department of the Interior and Local Government and other regional goverment offices in SOCCSKSARGEN has sent relief supplies for typhoon-stricken areas in the Caraga Region.

The supplies were transported in a 24-vehicle convoy that included dump trucks.

The humanitarian mission is a joint initiative of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Regional Task Force on COVID-19.

The convoy on Tuesday follows an initial shipment of relief supplies to the Caraga Region that the DILG regional office initiated.

The provisions — clothings, food rations and hygiene kits — were received by DILG personnel in the Caraga region. — The STAR/John Unson

December 28, 2021 - 10:03am

Total agriculture damage from Typhoon Odette is at P5.79 billion and counting, Agriculture Secretary William Dar says.

More than 70,000 hectares of agricultural land were affected.

Meanwhile, more than 506,000 houses were damaged by the super typhoon and may reach up to 600,000, Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario says.

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