Typhoon Pablo survivors struggle to rebuild lives

Reuters

Posted at Dec 11 2012 02:33 AM | Updated as of Dec 11 2012 10:33 AM

COMPOSTELA VALLEY, Philippines - Survivors of a deadly typhoon that struck the southern Philippines said on Monday (December 10) it could take years for them to rebuild their lives.

An intense storm last week wiped out about 90 percent of three coastal towns in Davao Oriental province and buried an entire town in neighbouring Compostela Valley province under mud.

Typhoon Bopha killed 647 people and caused crop damage worth 210 million U.S. dollars (8.5 billion pesos).

Thousands of homes were damaged and survivors are struggling to find enough food and shelter.

More than 302,000 people are staying in temporary shelters.

In the southern Philippines town of Cateel in Davao Oriental province, the source of the residents' food and livelihoods was destroyed when the coconut trees were uprooted.

The storm killed more than 100 people in Cateel (pronounced ka-ti-ill) alone.

Debris still litters the streets, nearly a week after the typhoon hit. Stores, churches and school buildings had been razed.

"We're trying hard to recover even if, right now, we're totally back to zero," resident Jun Jun Bacalso said.

Others residents mourned the loss of their businesses, trying to save and sell what little merchandise survived the storm.

"In this situation, it is really difficult to recover. It will take many years. We will need to find a new place to re-establish our business," one business-owner said.

Damage to infrastructure is complicating any chance of replenishing stock.

"I wonder when Cateel will recover. We had a good livelihood going. Now, what will we do with our land? Nothing will grow on it. Our coconut trees-- all were uprooted," a sundry shop owner, Buboy Francisco, said.

In the village of Andap in Compostela Valley's New Bataan, where mud slides swept away homes and buried victims, the search goes on for the missing.

The national disaster agency said on Monday that nearly 800 were missing and more than 1,000 were injured in the storm.

Around 100 fishermen disappeared in boatloads between Mindanao and Indonesia's Sulawesi island.

Relief workers are scrambling to deliver food and help rebuild communities but damage to infrastructure is complicating the task.

The Philippines' social welfare department and the United Nations are appealing for help as humanitarian agencies bring in food, water, medicines and shelter for more than 5.4 million people affected by the storm.

The government and Maoist rebels have declared truces in two southern provinces devastated by the typhoon last week as the army concentrates on relief and many rebels recover from the disaster, a commander said on Monday.

Bopha weakened into a low pressure area, as it moved away from northern Philippines on Sunday.