A post released by Jerry Uy, City Councilor of Tacloban City. Published on his facebook last December 8, 2013.
TACLOBAN CITY: 30 DAYS AFTER TYPHOON YOLANDA
It’s been a month since Super Typhoon Yolanda (International Codename: Haiyan) devastated the City of Tacloban. Killing almost 6,000 people, with more than 2,100 casualties who were residents of the city, destroying 90% of its residential, commercial and public infrastructures, and affecting about 58,000 families here, where most of the families had fled to nearby towns and cities in Eastern Visayas, and to Cebu or Manila, days after the super typhoon to seek refuge.
The backbone transmission lines in Feeders 1, 2 and 3 are said to be completely restored, and partly in Feeders 4 and 5 of Tacloban City, with the help of the electric cooperatives from other parts of the country. However, the city still remain dark because the street lights have not been energized by the City Government for unknown reason, but a segment from Real Street (Fatima Area to Burayan, San Jose) is illuminated by An Waray Partylist, using its own generator set. While most of the electric consumers have to apply for reconnection of their electricity with Leyte Electric Cooperative II (Leyeco II).
A one-stop-shop has been created at the office of Leyeco II to speed up the processing of electrical connections; fees and charges being collected by the City Government have been waived after numerous complaints were aired, in support of the public clamor, the City Council passed a resolution waiving the fees and charges being collected by the local government unit. A professional electrical engineer had been reported to be collecting Php 500.00 pesos from each applicant for his signature in the reconnection process. But his signature was no longer required, after the anomaly was exposed.
RESTORING WATER SYSTEM
Water supply system from the Leyte Metropolitan Water District is sufficient, but in some areas there are reports that they are experiencing low water pressure, due to the fact that water pipes are intentionally sawed by residents to get an instant water supply. However, there is private water company in the city that is said to be offering free water connection, but its water source comes from the deep well, which is unsafe and unreliable.
RESTORING COMMUNICATION LINES
Smart Communications and Globe Telecom have restored their services in the City two days after the super typhoon. PLDT and Bayan Communications are restoring their systems.
RESTORING PEACE AND ORDER
To maintain peace and order in the city, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines were deployed by the national government to augment the local police in the city, a de facto curfew was imposed during the first two weeks after the super typhoon to suppress lawlessness, after looters carted goods from business establishments in downtown Tacloban and the Robinson’s Place and its nearby establishments in Marabaras.
With the clamor of the business community and the residents of Tacloban over their security, the City Council passed an Ordinance imposing curfew from 8 o’clock in the evening until 5 o’clock of the following morning.
Local residents and subdivision homeowners banded and armed themselves to form citizens’ brigade to patrol their respective vicinities against criminal element, to the extent that license gun owners volunteered to help secure their premises. Police checkpoints were established in strategic locations in the city.
Since many residents remain homeless, and many families are staying at evacuation centers, shelter is a major concern. Public schools serve as evacuation centers during calamities. Each classroom is shared by at least four families.
While government has announced the establishment of bunkhouses and tent cities, majority of those who are homeless don’t have any idea on how to avail the shelter program of the government.
In a chance conversation with one of the evacuees staying at Rizal Central School, the evacuee said that she very much interested to avail of the housing program of the government, but has no idea on how to avail the same. She said that they have not been consulted nor informed on this matter. They are apprehensive that at any moment they might be transferred to another area because the school will be using the classrooms.
CLEAN UP AND CLEARING
With the assistance of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of Works and Highways (DPWH), and later the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, Inc., thru their cash for work program (temporary employment program, employing to a maximum of 34,000 persons and paid Php 500 pesos for a day’s work, the major streets in the city are now cleared of debris. However, due to the clean up of residents and commercial establishments their garbage are being piled up in the streets, and has to be collected by the city’s garbage trucks, being operated by local contractors.
Heavy equipment hired by Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundations has also been transporting debris and garbage to the dumpsites.
Temporary dumpsites were established at the Balyu-an grounds along Magsaysay Boulevard, and at the property of Robinson’s Land Corporation, previously owned by the City Government, at the Abucay Bus Terminal.
The Bureau of Fire Protection, SOCO and NBI form part of Task Force Cadaver and is tasked to retrieve and process the cadavers. Likewise, Korean and Japanese Disaster Relief Teams assisted in the retrieval.
Up to this moment, there are still uncollected cadavers that are either submerged in flood water, washed ashore or covered by the piles of debris.
Cadavers that were collected are being process by the NBI and SOCO for future identification by their relatives.
Mass graves were established by the City Government at Basper Public Cemetery and at Barangay Suhi (San Isidro), beside the Barangay Health Center of said Barangay.
With the assistance of the different foreign medical missions from Korea, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, China and other countries, in collaboration with the local and private hospitals in the City, they have provided medical treatments to the victims of the super typhoon.
The Australian Government was among the first to set-up a field hospital, near the Tacloban City Airport, complete with medical facilities.
China sent a hospital ship known as Ark of Peace, a 300 bed floating hospital complete with medical equipment, which also provided surgical treatment to local residents here.
Water, sanitation, hygiene and protection services are reportedly needed in evacuation centers.
Philippine and United States military cargo aircrafts transported thousands of fleeing residents out of the city, during the first two weeks after the typhoon. Commercial flights were available three days after the super typhoon struck.
At present, there are only a few Public Utility Vehicles (PUJ) and Motorcycle for Hire (MCH) plying their regular routes within the city, charging their passengers with overpriced fare.
Buses and vans to other cities and municipalities in the Eastern Visayas Region (Leyte, Samar and Biliran Islands), and to Manila and Davao are now available.
Traffic jam is experienced in the some areas in the city due to uncollected debris and garbage.
RESTORING LOCAL ECONOMY
To restore normalcy, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council created Task Force Normalization.
They convinced gas station operators and owners to re-open. Assuring them that security issues will be addressed.
Bank managers were also called up to re-open their banks, as it was one of the concerns aired by gas stations operators and other local businessmen, who were willing to resume their business in the city, days after the calamity.
Next in line that opened their businesses were grocery stores, hardwares, repair shops, auto and motor parts, remittance centers and other vital establishments.
To date only about 3% of the total establishments in the city have resumed their operations. They are operating on a skeletal workforce basis and reduced store hours; some establishments only open a part of their premises, enough for a few customers to enter; while others don’t even open their business premises to customers, but sale transactions are made thru a small pigeon hole, enough to hand the item bought and receive payment.
While major business establishments remain closed in the business district of Tacloban. Street vendors, with makeshift stalls, mushroomed in Burgos Street, Torres and Tarcela Sts. selling vegetables, fish, food stuff, can goods, and even “looted items”, as claimed by other people. Prices of those items are almost double, and government regulatory agencies cannot do anything about it.
Salazar Street, Zamora Street and Rizal Avenue are now congested with vendors selling anything you need from foodstuff, clothing, shoes, flashlights, solar- driven gadgets, mobile phones and accessories, to kitchen wares.
The Tacloban Public Market was damaged and no action has been done by the local government to restore it, despite the call by the City Council, during one of their regular sessions.
Livelihood and employment opportunities remain a major concern among the local residents.
Severely damaged also by the super typhoon were school buildings, both private and publicly owned. Classes have to be suspended from the primary to the tertiary level. For the second semester, some affected pupils and students opted to enroll, in other cities not affected by the typhoon. Others will just have to wait until school reopens.
Last December 2, 2013, classes for elementary and high school re-opened. However, only few students went back to school. Classrooms in almost all public schools served as evacuation centers for typhoon victims. However, in the tertiary level, the Commission on Higher Education announced that the reopening of classes is on January 15, 2014.
Donations made by both local and foreign non-government organization are said to be pouring in to help rebuilt damaged school buildings. Tents will be installed as alternative learning centers.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Local residents in Tacloban are anxious on what lies ahead for the next six months- during the recovery period, when the distribution of relief goods and cash for work program are terminated, and with a perceived massive unemployment and no copra to be harvested by the coconut farmers.
They are also concern with their safety and security if ever the augmented police force will be pulled-out and return to their mother unit by the end of December 2013.
They hope that government programs such as the food for work, and cash for work would continue during the recovery period thus giving food and employment opportunity. They also hope that the police visibility will remain.
The business sector which is the backbone of the local economy, must be supported by both government and private financial institutions by granting concessionary loans with low interest rates, ranging from 2 to 3% interest per annum. A loan with a 6% interest per annum is unacceptable to them.
Many businessmen will start not only start from zero, but from a “negative capitalization”. According to members of the local Chamber of Commerce the reason why they are starting from a negative is that their business premises where damaged by the typhoon, after which their merchandize were looted, and they still have the credit obligation to pay their suppliers.
The homeless are expecting that the government’s shelter program will be implemented at the soonest possible time, coupled with livelihood and employment opportunities.
A rehabilitation czar has recently been appointed by the President of the Philippines, the implementation of the rehabilitation of Eastern Visayas will take time, considering that a well-studied master plan requires an in-depth assessment, consultation, planning, and study addressing various issues and concerns,. An economic recovery plan is envisioned, similar to the Marshall Plan implemented by the United States to assist with the recovery efforts for Western Europe, after World War II is needed.