Shelter, search for survivors in storm-hit towns

By Jon Carlos Rodriguez,

Posted at Dec 07 2012 03:48 PM | Updated as of Dec 08 2012 07:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Shelters, electricity and a search for survivors are the national government's top priorities in towns in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley devastated by Typhoon Pablo.

President Benigno Aquino III ordered authorities to prioritize building temporary shelters and restoring power in the typhoon-hit towns of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

He told residents of New Bataan, Compostela Valley that the government will do everything to search for the 357 residents still missing after the storm. He said his administration will work hard to avoid similar loss of lives in the future.

Nearly 500 people were killed while 300,000 were rendered homeless in the disaster.

"Importante sa akin, number 1, ang ating mga nawawala, yung missing gusto ko ma-account. Kung meron po sana, karamihan, kung hindi pwede lahat, ay buhay pa - maaabutan natin as soon as possible," Aquino told the residents.

"Kailangan maasikaso lahat ng nabubuhay ho, kaya nandito kami ngayon. Nandito ako para makinig, gusto kong malaman lahat ng sagot sa mga katanungang pumapalibot sa aking isipan," he added.

The President, along with Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Interior and Local Secretary Mar Roxas and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, visited the worst-hit areas of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley to assess the damage caused by Typhoon Pablo.

Soliman said the President was “very sad” when he saw the extent of damage particularly in Boston, Davao Oriental and was “very determined to identify what caused this and how can we prevent the loss of lives.”

She said one school used as an evacuation center had no roof, leaving evacuees at the mercy of the elements.

“We went down in Boston and almost all of the houses have no roofs or were flattened out. You could really see the fury of ‘Pablo’ went into these 3 [Davao Oriental] towns,” Soliman told ANC’s “News Now.”

Restore power, build shelters

Soliman said the President gave instructions to prioritize restoring power in Boston, Cateel and Baganga, the 3 towns that remain isolated because of collapsed bridges.

According to Soliman, Petilla committed that power will be restored on or before December 23.

The President also gave orders to provide shelter to the affected families who lost their homes due to strong winds.

“Tomorrow we are going to be sending our engineers from the community driven development program of the DWSD and we will start working on the bunk houses with the local government and the citizens themselves,” she said.

The 10-room bunk houses will be constructed in open areas to serve as temporary shelter.

No permanent houses yet

Soliman noted that permanent houses will not be built until the area is evaluated by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The DSWD chief said relief goods have been delivered in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

The first batch of food packs were delivered Wednesday to Baganga, Cateel and Boston via boat and to New Bataan via land.

“We will continue to support until the people have normalized and stabilized the source of food,” she said.

Roxas, meanwhile, assured the affected families that more help is on the way.

He said K9 units will be deployed in the areas to assist in search and rescue efforts for the almost 400 people still missing.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority had also set up a water treatment facility to provide potable water for the families displaced by the typhoon.