After Ruby Tacloban rising back to normalcy
Miriam Garcia Desacada (The Freeman) - December 9, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines – Hours after typhoon Ruby passed Eastern Visayas, Tacloban City has started to rise back to its normal run of things, with few establishments in the central business district resuming business operations.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez thanked everyone for a zero casualty, noting the support of the people and the concerned agencies. "We'll have to praise God, because we're all safe. We truly prepared for Ruby because of lessons from Yolanda. I mean everyone did their job for the safety of their families," he said.

Romualdez directed the City Social Welfare Development Office to come up with an assessment and determine the number of residents needing support from the government. As of yesterday, he was still waiting for the report on damages on infra and agriculture, even if he expected minimal destruction this time.

Houses along the shorelines as well as buildings and establishments incurred partial damages as their rooftops were damaged or blown away by the typhoon, said the mayor.

Many evacuees yesterday started returning to their houses after being holed up in evacuation centers, days before Ruby struck. The city government had been providing food packs to the evacuated families before, during and after the typhoon.

The peace and order situation in the city was generally peaceful, with police visibility and law enforcers still on red alert status, as of yesterday.

Some establishments have started removing flood-protection sand bags, piled in front of their premises, and yesterday banks and gas stations resumed their operations, after shutting down since Friday.

At the height of Ruby's wrath on Sunday, flooding occurred in some parts of the city and in Barangay Nula-tula, as well as in other areas in the city's northern barangays, along the flooded Maharlika Highway, a couple of electrical poles leaned threateningly to the road.

Workers of the Energy Development Corporation, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and Leyte Electric Cooperative II, have started to remedy the situation as power was still un-restored in the city. Power authorities said electricity may be restored five days after yesterday,

Water supply may be restored in three days time. The Leyte Metropolitan Water District said the city may experience low pressure to no-water and possible turbid (muddy) supply of water, due to high raw water turbidity and clogging in the intake structures at Barangay San Agustin in Jaro, Leyte, affecting its service areas in the city and the towns of Pastrana, Sta. Fe, Palo and Tanauan.

Communications, however, were functioning, although a bit very slow.

The City Council held a special session yesterday afternoon to deliberate on the possible declaration of the city under a state of calamity, despite minimal damage sustained, to pave the way for the government to use its calamity fund, or its local disaster risk reduction and management fund.

Regional officials have yet to provide official and final assessment yet on the damages caused by Ruby, but Senior Inspector Mark Nalda, deputy chief of police community relations of the Police Regional Office-8, said that 16 people were reported to have died in the three provinces of Samar island, and one in Caibiran town of Biliran. In Ormoc City, two were wounded in the evacuation center from a sharp object due to strong winds.

Partial assessment of damages in Eastern Samar, gathered yesterday, stated: The towns of Guiuan, Lawaan, Salcedo reported no human casualty and minor damage to houses and properties, while Quinapondan, Llorente and Balangiga reported no human casualty but some damage to houses and properties. Hernani reported one casualty, a 70-year-old man and several damages to houses and properties. The rest of Eastern Samar has no reports yet. No communications as of yesterday afternoon.

Clearing operations on roads blocked by fallen trees are now underway from Tacloban up to Pastrana town. The DPWH reported, as of yesterday morning, that the Kawayan-Culaba, Cabucgayan-Biliran and Naval-Caibiran roads remained impassable.

In Samar, major roads such as the Maharlika Highway from Allen to Calbayog, as well as the Catbalogan-San Juanico-Marabut and the Wright-Taft roads were already passable to motorists, according to Samar's assistant district engineer Ruben de los Reyes.

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council deployed teams to Eastern Samar and Northern Samar to conduct rapid disaster and needs assessment in areas severely affected by Ruby.

These teams, led by Office of Civil Defense-8 Regional Director Blanche Gobenciong, would be reaching other towns and barangays to "assess their needs, including listing damaged structures and houses." Their work would be focused also on "ensuring the supply of food and water to residents who have lost their homes."  — with reports from Tacloban Councilor Jerry Uy, Rommel L. Rutor and

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