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Exodus of residents as Bopha relief runs out

Rehabilitation plans for 5.74m people who were affected by Typhoon Bopha

Gulf News

Manila: An exodus of families from evacuation centres and isolated places has begun due to the absence of relief goods, and rehabilitation plans for the 5.74 million people affected by Typhoon Bopha has also began, a TV report said.

“Many people have been asking us about our schedule of departure every time we bring in relief goods,” Col. Olan Embuscado told GMA TV when asked about families leaving disaster hit areas in the south.

Student Jomar de la Cruz said on TV his studies in Davao City would be affected because his parents have no livelihood in Cateel, Davao Oriental.

Residents in four towns in Davao Oriental, such as Boston, Cateel, Baganga, and Caraga have no choice but to leave and seek help elsewhere, said De la Cruz while helping distribute relief goods in one evacuation centre for Cateel residents.

“[The intermittent arrival of) relief goods is not good for us. We have to go to nearby towns,” several residents told GMA TV.

Leaving behind their homes and evacuation centres, families have bravely gone looking for food and livelihood in nearby towns, hoping to stay with relatives located on safer grounds that were not heavily damaged by Typhoon Bopha, the TV report said.

“Structures like houses, hospitals, gymnasiums, schools and government offices in these places in Davao Oriental were [totally] destroyed,” said National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos.

Residents in 53 villages in heavily affected towns such as Compostela, Monkayo, and New Boston in Compostela Valley, are also planning to leave their damaged homes and villages. Even the evacuation centres in these places were damaged by Typhoon Bhopa, a local government leader who requested for anonymity told Gulf News in a phone interview.

Residents from affected areas in Surigao del Sur have already joined the bandwagon of people leaving behind damaged places until a true rehabilitation plan is completed by the government, said the same source.

Displaced residents said they expected the government to erect tent cities or temporary homes for them.

The cost of such a rehabilitation plan is high considering the widespread destruction brought about by Typhoon Bhopa.

About 528,822 families or 5.47 million people were affected by the typhoon that ravaged 1,947 villages, 252 municipalities (towns), in 37 cities, 30 provinces, and nine regions in the southern Philippines, NDRRMC said.

Around 19 bridges and nine roads in 37 areas remain impassable, NDRRMC said, adding that 133,588 homes were damaged.

The government has been extending relief assistance to 23,421 families or 100,246 people in 113 evacuation centres; 161,381 families or 677,942 people in isolated places, NDRRMC said.

The cost of damage was placed at P14 billion (Dh1.25 billion), including P4.47 billion in infrastructure, P9.517 billion in agriculture, and P48.68 million in private properties.

Some 749 people were registered dead, 563 of them identified, 177 not identified; 890 others remained missing; only 135 were rescued, NDRRMC said.