VICTIMS NEED HELP
There are about eleven thousand of them. They huddled on concrete grounds with just a thin piece of cardboard, carton or mat to separate them from the cold cement.
They need tents, mats, blankets and clothes. They need medicines and portable toilets. They need food.
They need much more. Men, women and children. Young and old. Some, mostly children, are now getting sick from exposure to the heat of the sun during the day and the cold at night.
Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (MCDRRMC) head Felix Suico, looking grim, yesterday admitted they were overwhelmed by the number of victims of the fire that razed over 9-hectare of densely packed houses that encompassed the city’s villages of Guizo and Mantuyong at dawn on Saturday.
MCDRRMO personnel and volunteers rushed help to the fire victims who were herded to the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) ground just as the sun rose on Saturday, already worried they might not have enough for the about 1,000 households, or about 5,000 people that needed to be fed and sheltered.
But what met them was more people than they had expected. And by 1:30 p.m. yesterday, the MCDRRMO said its list of victims has reached 2,255 households or about 11,000 persons who were mostly left with nothing but just the clothes on their back.
“Nagkuwang gyud ta ilabi na sa tents. Grabe gyud kaayo ang mga tawo. Wa ta ga-expect ing-ani kadaghan,” he told Cebu Daily News.
(We don’t have enough tents. There are just too many of them. We did not expect that they would be this many.)
He said that what they need now are more tents and portable toilets, as the Mandue City Social Welfare and Services could only provide 16 portalets for the fire victims.
Suico said he has asked the Cebu provincial government and Cebu City for help, especially with the tents.
So far, the province has given five tents while they were still waiting for the 20 tents they had asked from the Cebu city government, he said.
The Philippine Red Cross, together with the city health department, have, meanwhile, set up a small medical station to check those who have gotten ill and to dispense medicines mainly for children who were now suffering from cough and colds.
Carmen Pasaje, 36, while holding her 11-month-old baby, said she was grateful for the medicines as her baby has been having fever since Saturday because it was too hot at the CICC grounds during the day.
Pasaje said she, her husband and their two small children shared a small blanket, which was one of the few things they had saved before the fire burned down their house.
They were among the families who have yet to be housed inside a tent since they were among the last of the victims who had their families listed with the Mandaue City Social Welfare and Services (CSWS) on Saturday night.
“Wala gyud mi sanina. Kung unsa akong gisoot karon mao ni gahapon pa. Namalit nalang sad mi ginagmay sama sa tsinelas ug sanina sa akong mga anak,” she said.
(We were not able to save clothes. What I am wearing now is what I wore yesterday. We could only buy a few things, like slippers and clothes for my children).
While the city government is still addressing the needs of the fire victims, the city’s Housing and Urban Development Office (Hudo) has decided to immediately implement the re-blocking of the fire site in Barangay Mantuyong and Sitio Sta. Cruz in Barangay Guizo before the victims could rebuild their houses.
The re-blocking means that spaces would now be required between houses and for two-lane roads to be constructed to separate the various housing blocks.
Hudo head Tony Pet Juanico, who met with many of the fire victims yesterday, said fire victims would need to stay in temporary shelters at the CICC grounds for at least one month as the city would need time to re-block the 9.2-hectare area affected by the fire. The land is owned by the city government and has been designated as a resettlement site for the city’s informal settlers.
“We are asking the fire victims to give us around 30 days because we still need to develop the site,” said Juanico.
In an emergency meeting with the MCDRRMC last Saturday, it was agreed that the fire site must first be elevated as it is low-lying and prone to flooding.
At least two construction firms, PLD construction and PB Obial Construction, have committed to provide filling materials for free, Juanico said.
He said the existing roads will be widened while the three-meter easement of the creek and the man-made canal on the resettlement site would now be off limits to settlers. Each beneficiary of the 9.2-hectare property will be allotted a 20-square-meter lot.
Starting today, the fire site will be cleared and fenced to separate it from adjoining private lots, he said.
Subscribe to our regional newsletter
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.