Order to evacuate high-risk areas ‘didn’t reach some barangays’
Storm warnings were given a day before typhoon Seniang made landfall in Sibonga, south Cebu on Dec. 30.
The Capitol sent advisories for pre-emptive evacuation on Monday but the message didn’t trickle down to some high-risk communities.
After talking to some storm victims, Baltazar Tribunalo, head of the provincial disaster office, said he was able to “confirm” that some LGUS did not relay the advisories to the barangays.
“Some children whom I talked to really told me that they did not know about the storm or the evacuation. They were clueless,” said Tribunalo.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III went to Sibonga to survey the damaged Dumlog bridge approach that cut off direct access to the next town of Argao.
He said he sent a text message to President Benigno Aquino requesting assistance.
The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) yesterday said the death toll in Cebu province from typhoon “Seniang” has risen to 17.
Two unidentified bodies were recovered in Sibonga and Ronda towns in the past two days, said Tribunalo.
Two persons remain missing – a two-month-old boy and a three-year-old female who were swept by floodwaters while they were in their house in barangay Tupas, Ronda, where most of the deaths were reported.
Tribunalo said the casualties could have been avoided if local government units (LGUs) had implemented a “real” forced evacuation in high-risk areas.
“It’s very sad that we campaigned for zero casualty, that no one would die, go missing or get wounded. But our local government units still have a lot to improve in disaster preparations,” said Tribunalo.
He initially pegged the cost of damage in Cebu at P800,000 to over a billion pesos but the figure may increase based on assessment reports sent by the storm-stricken towns.
“We need to prepare a detailed report for the damage. We will send it as soon as possible,” the governor told reporters.
Authorities, meanwhile, warned residents in flood-hit areas against water-borne diseases.
Those who wade through floodwater should wash up thoroughly to avoid contracting diseases such as leptospirosis and diarrhea, said Dr. Expedito Medalla of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7).
Medalla said the DOH-7 was monitoring the water systems of some areas affected by flood for possible contamination.
Medicines have been distributed to the municipality of Loon, Bohol for victims of diarrhea.
No cases of leptospirosis and diarrhea have been reported yet in southern Cebu which experienced severe flooding.
Governor Davide went to Sibonga town at noon to check the Dumlog Bridge along with Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Assistant Secretary Dimas Soguilon and DPWH First District Engr. Nicomedes Leonor Jr.
Provincial Information Officer Ethel Natera said Sibonga municipal officials are trying to arrange with lot owners nearby to allow people to pass through their property while the a temporary steel bridge is being set up.
Strong rains and runoff from the mountains also washed out the access of the Dumlog bridge in Sibonga town, southern Cebu.
Bridge engineering experts from DPWH’s central office visited the site yesterday to plan how to install a temporary steel bridge.
“We’re mobilizing our equipment and working on the components of the steel bridge to connect the bridge to the damaged approach,” Ador Canlas, DPWH regional director, said.
He said the bridge will be operational in two weeks.
Since the bridge is impassable, people go down to the riverbank to use a footbridge or take a habal habal motorcycle on a detour route to get to their destination.
The Office of the Civil Defense 7 said there were 21 deaths, three remain missing and seven were injured from southern Cebu and Bohol province.
Two sinkholes also surfaced in Badian town, southwest Cebu.
A total of 93 houses were destroyed by typhoon Seniang– 63 in Cebu and 30 in Bohol.
The OCD-7 said financial assistance of P5,000 to P10,000 will be given to the typhoon victims.
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