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Queenie relives horrors of Yolanda

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva November 28,2014 - 07:47 AM

RESCUE. Residents pull up a man from the Argao River. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

RESCUE. Residents pull up a man from the Argao River.

Over a year has passed since Yolanda battered northern Cebu but its wrath and the fear it brought are still fresh among the people in the south.

When typhoon Queenie swept through Argao town Wednesday night, roofs and windows rattled, the pattering of rain heard throughout homes, 26-year old Gisel Sator could not help but think of last year’s supertyphoon.

Queenie, although weaker than Yolanda, nonetheless left homes flooded, trees fallen and the national highway leading to the south littered with leaves and twigs.

“My parents live in Daanbantayan and I’ve heard enough from the news about what typhoons can do to be scared,” she said in Cebuano.

By 12 midnight, the Argao River had started to overflow due to the surge of mountainside water.

The Sator family live in a small wooden home near a dike by the river in barangay Media Bulahan.

The Sator family was taken to the Secretary Cerge Remonde Sports Complex in barangay Lamacan while the others also living by the river were evacuated to different elementary schools.

About 100 individuals were evacuated. By midday yesterday, most of them had gone home while those who lived near the river were asked to stay until the water subsided.

The river rose as high as 10 feet, with a force so strong, clusters of banana and bamboo were toppled by the current rushing into the sea.

Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos said that residents have become more cooperative during evacuations due to the disasters Cebu has experienced in the past year.

“People are more educated now. Perhaps what made them cooperate is understanding,” he said.

Galeos said that the town prepared for the storm but did not anticipate the depth of the river’s overflow.

The mayor said that they will need the intervention of the Capitol, perhaps even the National Government, to build dikes along the riverbank to ensure the same incident will not happen again.

A river in Boljoon town also overflowed, washing out homes and displacing at least 13 families in barangay Poblacion.

Edna Verana, whose house stood about seven meters from the Kalimang river, did not expect the water to reach it.

She, her husband, and three children, were already too shocked to react when the water suddenly reached chest-height at around 3 a.m. yesterday.

The Veranas and the other families whose houses were washed out were brought to a nearby billiards parlor that served as a temporary evacuation center.

Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama said they earlier warned residents to immediately evacuate at the onset of a flood.

In the meantime, the evacuees will be staying at the Boljoon Cockpit Arena until the local government finds a suitable relocation site.

“We want to make sure they don’t come back to rebuild their homes near the river,” said Derama.

Clearing operations in both towns have been conducted since noon yesterday and will continue today.

Practical lesson

According to Baltazar Tribunalo, chief of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, storm Queenie gave practical lessons to municipal employees they have trained as first responders.

He said the province’s disaster management office has been conducting several trainings to first responders in towns following supertyphoon “Yolanda” but the trainees have yet to apply their newly-acquired skills in disaster situations.

“This is really the challenge to us, complacency. We should step up because we are aiming for zero fatalities next year,” he said./with reports from Reporter Peter L. Romanillos

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TAGS: Argao, Badian, Cebu, Cebu province, Daanbantayan, flood, Queenie

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