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Help ‘Urduja’ survivors

by Robert B. Roque, Jr.

It’s sad that some parts of the country were again ravaged by a strong typhoon a few days before Christmas.

Just the other day, Chief Inspector Ma. Belle Rentuaya, Police Regional Office (PRO) 8 spokesperson, stated that 42 people died in Eastern Visayas alone from typhoon “Urduja”.

A report from Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) revealed that a couple, both aged 60, perished in a landslide in San Fernando, Romblon. One housewife died in Camarines Norte while another drowned in Planas, Masbate.

There were also 86 people reported injured while 33 were declared missing after being pummeled by the typhoon that took everyone by surprise with the unexpected strong winds and heavy rainfall it packed.

For Tacloban residents, the Urduja experience brought back memories of the horror they suffered from super typhoon “Yolanda” which ruined their city four years ago.

Floods were described as massive and severe as some 15,000 people were evacuated when Urduja unleashed its wrath. Flood waters also engulfed a relocation site for families that were transferred away from coastal areas that suffered deadly storm surges during Yolanda’s onslaught.

Sadly, some of the affected families would have no choice but to welcome Christmas with the memorial service and burial of their loved ones.

Transportation in and out of Biliran proved difficult since the roads affected by floods and landslides remained impassable. Some residents braved through the mud-covered roads in order to get food and water.

Residents were forced to climb ladders to cross the damaged Caraycaray Bridge that connects the province of Biliran to mainland Leyte. Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said it would take 30 days at least to rehabilitate the bridge.

Some local government officials already extended efforts in distributing relief goods such as rice, canned goods and instant noodles.

But why was Urduja’s strength unexpected? Was the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), with all its modern equipment, unable to foresee this nature’s force?

Is PAGASA again going back to its old ways of being unreliable in weather forecasting, of reporting rainy days when the sun would shine as bright as it could and sunny days where heavy rains would leave the streets flooded?

The devastation could have somehow been lessened had they been forewarned and were prepared for the worse.

While Firing Line grieves over the victims and losses incurred, it urges the government, non-government organizations, civic groups, and everyone else to help the Urduja survivors weather this predicament.

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