Cebu: A month after Odette’s fury
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Aside from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Cebuanos celebrated the Feast of Señor Sto. Niño on Sunday, January 16 in a whole, different way.
It’s been a month since Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) battered Cebu, leaving a massive trail of destruction, so massive that the entire island province was under total blackout for several days.
Fortunately, the motorists camping outside gasoline stations overnight just to secure fuel for their vehicles, and the long queues in automated teller machines (ATMs), both of which became common sights after the typhoon arrived, were gone.
All towns badly hit by the typhoon are now accessible even for heavy vehicles.
The situation here may have improved 30 days after Odette released its fury last December 16 but there’s still work that needs to be done in order for Cebu to fully recover from the devastation.
Based on the January 14 report by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a total of 636,837 families or close to 2 million individuals in Cebu were affected by Odette.
The figures included those from the three largest cities here — Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue.
In a separate data compiled by reporters, close to 100 individuals in Cebu lost their lives due to the typhoon’s onslaught.
Most of the victims died after being crushed by falling debris such as trees, houses, and concrete walls.
Power, water & telco
Electricity, running water, and telecommunication signals went down on the days following Odette’s onslaught.
While major thoroughfares are lighted back, hundreds of thousands of households remained without power as of January 16.
The latest bulletin from Visayan Electric showed that they were able to restore energy in 68.37 of their franchise.
Visayan Electric’s total number of consumers stood at 474,182. This meant that 149,966 households still do not have electricity.
Metro Cebu’s power distributor covers Liloan, Consolacion, Mandaue City, Cebu City, Talisay City, Minglanilla town, Naga City, and San Fernando town.
The same thing goes for the province.
Electricity has not returned yet to hundreds of thousands of consumers within the combined franchise areas of Cebu Electric Cooperative (Cebeco) I and III.
Cebeco III reported that as of January 13, rehabilitation works are still ongoing for 40,201 households in their coverage area which includes Toledo City, and the towns of Pinamungajan, Asturias, Aloguinsan, and Balamban.
On the other hand, based on available data, Cebeco I is working to reenergize approximately 116,000 households as of January 4.
Cebeco I suffered significant damage on many of their infrastructure due to Odette. The power distributor covers a total of 18 localities, all of which are in south Cebu, one of the areas that bore the brunt of Odette.
Meanwhile, access to water in Metro Cebu has not yet been fully restored nearly a month since Odette showed up here.
Cebeco II, for its part, reported on January 10 that its re-energization progress has already reached 99 percent. In a post on social media, they said they were still addressing reconnection issues such as damage to properties, construction, service entrance problems for the remaining 1 percent that had not been reenergized.
Majority of Cebeco II’s franchise area was spared by Odette’s wrath.
Cebeco II said that it would reach 100 percent consumer restoration once all MCOs (member-consumer-owners) would be able to receive power safely.
It also cited the causes of reconnection delay, which included damage to properties, construction/repairs, service entrance problems, among others.
As of January 13, the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), for its part, reported that water had been restored in 88 percent of their franchise area.
But fortunately, supply of safe, drinking water in Metro Cebu is already stable, and several communities no longer have to go far to fetch potable water.
Mobile signals were down after Odette battered Cebu, and only a few areas have good, cellular coverage.
Fast forward to 30 days later, while texting and calling services have returned in most areas, having reliable and fast internet connection remained a challenge, a burden for employees who are in a work-from-home arrangement.
Internet cables were not spared by Odette’s fury, and telecommunication companies are still doing repair works for them.
Even a month has already passed, relief aid continues to pour into Cebu.
From the situational report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), a total of P33.4 million food packs from the national government have been distributed to at least 18 localities here.
These are the towns of Argao, Balamban, Barili, Boljoon, Cordova, Dalaguete, Dumanjug, Minglanilla, Moalboal, Pinamungajan, Ronda, San Fernando, Sibonga, and the cities of Carcar, Cebu, Naga, and Talisay.
Cebu has also received help from humanitarian organizations and foreign governments.
In addition, the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) held a fund-raising activity during the Feast of Señor Sto. Niño to be spent for Odette-stricken families in dire need of help.
Odette was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2021.
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