Aftershocks, tsunami scare trigger exodus of Cebuanos

By Carine M. Asutilla, ABS-CBN News Central Visayas

Posted at Feb 07 2012 09:16 AM | Updated as of Feb 08 2012 02:15 AM

CEBU - Thousands of Cebuanos slept in evacuation centers or fled to mountain barangays Monday as strong aftershocks sparked fears of a possible tsunami.

About 200 families from two barangays in the southern town of San Fernando took shelter in San Fernando Central School Monday.
 
Alfonso Donaire IV, president of the Association of Barangay Captains in San Fernando, said the evacuees are from Barangays Kalubihan and Lawis, coastal barangays of the town.
 
Donaire said a strong aftershock at around 6 p.m. prompted many residents to pack some of their belongings and stay temporarily in government shelters.
 
More residents came to the evacuation shelter as another aftershock hit the area at 7 p.m.

One of the residents, Odonil Sasuman, said he heard over the radio about the tsunami warning past 12 noon. He said his family decided to evacuate when it was already high tide.
 
“The seawater was already high and the waves were big. We all got scared especially after that tsunami warning was give out. It is better to find a safer spot,” he said.
 
Most of the fathers in the evacuation centers stayed up all night to watch over their families. They said they needed to be awake in case another strong earthquake hits.

“This is not the time to leave ourselves unguarded. We must all be in alert for the safety of our children,” Ruben Rita, one of the evacuees, said.
 
Instead of sleeping in the classrooms, evacuees decided to sleep outside in the hallway. They said that it is better to be outside so they can easily run to the nearest open ground.

They admitted being afraid of being trapped inside the school buildings in case another earthquake hits.

400 families
 
More than 400 families are also in the gyms of Barangay Cogon-Pardo and Poblacion-Pardo in Cebu City.
 
Mayor Michael Rama visited two gyms and other evacuation centers in Barangay San Nicolas and Guadalupe last night, bringing bread for the evacuees.

He said that his staff including the Department of Social Welfare and Development personnel and the quick response team are in place to help the evacuees.
 
Jun Gabuya, barangay captain of Cogon-Pardo, said residents in coastal sitios such as Sitio Santo Niño and Sitio Millennium asked if they could stay at the gym. He said residents were scared of a tsunami even after government authorities lifted a tsunami alert past 2 p.m.

One resident, Virgie Bornia, packed her children’s clothes and secured their birth certificates and other important documents in a plastic envelope after leaving their house.

“It’s hard to put the safety of your children at risk because of just one single announcement that the tsunami alert has already been lifted. It is better to keep safe until everything is well,” she said.

Sleeping in vehicles

Officials have urged residents to go home on Tuesday but said they could stay longer if they do not feel safe in their homes.
 
Some residents in coastal barangays did not stay inside the evacuation centers but instead went up to mountain barangays. Some slept along the roads and in their vehicles.
 
Fidela Folio brought her whole family to the mountainous village of Barangay Busay after they felt an aftershock at 6 p.m.

She said her husband asked his boss if they could use their jeepney overnight so they could have a place to sleep.
 
Folio made the PUJ an instant house for four of her grandchildren. They hung cradles for the kids to sleep in while the others slept outside, on the side of the road.
 
“It is nice to be here because we feel safer. We can see what’s happening down there in the city from up here,” she said.
 
Folio also opted to stay awake so she can guard her family, making sure that nothing bad will happen to them.