Guv: ‘Queenie taught us a lesson’

“Calamities open our eyes to the things that we have to improve especially in terms of disaster-preparedness,” stated Cebu Governor Hilario P. Davide III a day after a storm hit 15 towns in Cebu South.

From making landfall in Surigao del Sur, typhoon Queenie crossed Central Philippines Thursday, November 27 ravaging southern Cebu along the way.

It caused fallen trees, landslides, and significant rise in river water levels flooding many houses, schools and other infrastructures.

Its heavy floods in Malabuyoc town washed out three houses killing one adult, 50-year-old Alona Baldado, resident of Barangay Poblacion 1.

Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM) Officer Baltazar Tribunalo, Jr. felt saddened by the loss of Baldado’s life.

He said Barangay Poblacion 1 officials were not able to fully prepare because it was their first time to experience such strong typhoon.

He added Baldado’s death should have been avoided if the local government unit implemented a forced evacuation of residents near riverbanks.

However, Davide said what happened was an accident.

Atong gusto nga wa gyuy mahitabo apan disgrasya man gyud, aksidente man (We wanted to have zero casualty but an accident happened), he said.

He added that nobody expected the strength of typhoon Queenie’s rains and winds experienced in Cebu South.

“Signal No. 1 ra man god ta (Southern Cebu was only given Storm Signal No. 1). We did not expect nga ing-ato kakusog ang bagyo (the typhoon to be that strong), expressed Davide.

He added that the typhoon taught everyone the importance of LGUs’ disaster-preparedness especially for barangay and municipal officials as they are the first responders during calamities.

Davide trusts local chief executives have disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) programs in place.

“The Province’s role is to assist them in whatever way we can. That’s why we went to towns conducting orientations and capacity-buildings,” he said.

State of Calamity

Davide announced he will request the Provincial Board (PB) to declare the areas affected by typhoon Queenie in state of calamity.

This declaration would allow the Province to use the remaining DRRM funds from CY 2014.

“Based on the reports I received from Mr. Tribunalo, there are houses in coastal barangays in some municipals that are in need of assistance so we will request a declaration (of state-of-calamity) on those areas,” he said.

According to Tribunalo, Capitol has still around P121 million DRRM fund. Thirty percent, or about P40 million, of this is allocated for quick response operations.

This is where PDRRMO will get funds for assistance to typhoon-affected areas should the PB issue the state-of-calamity declaration, he said.

Water shortage

Davide also reported water trucks have already been sent out to Malabuyoc town.

The town experienced water shortage as the typhoon’s heavy floods damaged its water system.

Capitol is looking for additional water trucks for Dalaguete, Alegria and Boljoon towns, which reported water scarcity as well.

“We lack water trucks as we have only one. We may have to rent more trucks so we can send water to the affected towns,” Davide stated.

Damage assessment

PDRRMO is currently collating data gathered so far from affected towns for emergency assessment data report. Tribunalo hopes this would be released by Monday, December 1.

The final damage and needs assessment (DANA) report will be released after 1-2 weeks. Tribunalo said DANA would take time because the assessing teams have to check each town for damage from typhoon Queenie.