Surviving the perfect storm

READER'S VIEWS - Renester P. Suralta - The Freeman

On December 16, 2021, super typhoon Odette (International name Rai) entered the country particularly, Central Visayas and parts of Northern Mindanao, wreaking havoc. It was the strongest and most violent storm that hit the country in decades since Ruping 1990 and Yolanda 2013.

Calm before the storm

The weather was fine before the fateful day. But PAGASA Weather bureau reported that it would be a disastrous typhoon with storm warning from 3 to 4 within a few hours. Unfortunately, the people ignored the storm signal because they were busy with their lives. Typhoons had missed Cebu City plenty of times in the past. Religious people strongly believe the Holy Child has been protecting Cebu all the time. Still, Odette castigated Cebu like a sinner city at nightfall.

The onslaught of the typhoon

The perfect storm in pandemic time caught many by surprise. Typhoon Odette arrived earlier than expected and, without mercy, destroyed a billion worth of agricultural products and infrastructure, homes, and properties, killed over 300 people, and injured thousands. The extent of damage by the typhoon Odette was extreme and catastrophic.

The morning after

The shocking scenes of fallen trees, electric posts, shattered windows, billboards, and debris were scattered everywhere. The roads and highways were not passable to any vehicles in the cities and towns. The artificial shortages of basic supplies were apparent anywhere. The people panicked for gas, drinking water, and groceries. The construction supplies like G.I. sheets suddenly were in demand and out of stock. The price of generator sets doubled along with prime commodities. As people began to pick up pieces of what was left, some opportunists had taken advantage of the situation. Many unscrupulous businessmen hoard products and sell them for high prices.

Further, before some residents could repair their homes, a fire broke out in some slum areas due to candles and stored gas. The fire department reported 30 fire incidents 11 days after the storm. The absence of power, water, and telecommunication have made things complicated and life worst for many affected families.

Delayed help

As usual, the assessment of damages is faster than the help extended to the victims. The LGUs ability to respond still needs improvement. Hence, the speedy recovery and total rehabilitation of Cebu City, province, and neighboring islands may take some time.

The financial aid of the national government was delayed because of bureaucratic procedures and legal requirements. Some local government units have their issues over the distribution of cash assistance.

Reported foreign donations hopefully, can reach the poor victims who are homeless and without a livelihood. Our experience in handling foreign donations for Yolanda victims way back was a national shame, still very fresh in our minds.

So depressing that before the pandemic was over, another disaster crushed our spirits. The impact of the typhoon as a natural calamity is worse than the COVID-19. The aftermath of typhoon Odette was a terrible experience beyond words.

The Filipino spirit

But Filipinos are tough, resilient people with high survival ability, always ready to face all types of disasters, natural or human-induced.

Our strong faith in God Almighty and optimism to see the light after the storm is the source of our power and strength. It is in the heart and soul of Filipino the will to survive.

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