It will literally be an empty Christmas for thousands who will be homeless in Mindanao and some areas in the Visayas, with all of them praying for hope and help following the onslaught of Odette, the 15th typhoon to hit the country in 2021 with nearly 400 people now counted dead.
In the far south, Tubajon, Dinagat Islands Mayor Fely Pedrablanca said Tuesday almost all homes in the entire town had been damaged due to the impact of Odette, and asked the government for help as their food was running out and was only good for two more days.
In Surigao City, residents of barangays Punta Bilar, San Juan, Lipata and other areas were clamoring for food and water supplies.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the Department of Social Welfare and Development to continuously provide family food packs and water and shelter assistance for families with damaged houses.
Housing assistance will be provided by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and the National Housing Authority to victims whose homes were partially and totally damaged, he said.
Joining calls for immediate relief and recovery, Greenpeace also raised its calls for climate justice and the declaration of a national climate emergency amid the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.
In Central Visayas, Marivic Rosal of Minglanilla, Cebu temporarily left their house and drove to the city with her children as communication signals were down in the town south of the capital, she told The Manila Standard.
In Eastern Visayas, around 85 percent of houses in Southern Leyte were damaged, according to Danilo Atienza of the province’s disaster council.
Atienza also said they were still struggling to reach some far-flung areas, with people in the province badly food, potable water and temporary shelter.
Interviewed on Dobol B TV, Pedrablanca said some residents in Dinagat Islands were homeless, two days after Odette’s exit, as around 25 percent of the houses were totally damaged.
“Only nine were really not damaged. The rest of the over 2,000 households were really damaged. Around one-fourth of the homes are totally damaged,” Pedrablanca said.
She also called on the national government to send food assistance to their town.
According to her, the stock of food relief packs would be depleted in two days as some of them were already used for the individuals in isolation under COVID-19 protocols.
Pedrablanca said the town still had no access to communication lines and relief assistance as are other towns in Mindanao on the path of Odette.
Humanitarian aid workers who arrived in the province of Dinagat Islands on Sunday were horrified to see houses flattened to the ground and landmarks, including its provincial capitol, destroyed by super typhoon Odette.
Charlito Manlupig, chair of the Balay Mindanaw Foundation said the Category 4 winds and rains of Odette damaged 95 percent of the island-province’s estimated 22,000 houses.
Manlupig said the provincial capitol of Dinagat and the house of Governor Arlene Bag-ao were not spared.
“Everywhere you will see houses flattened to the ground or their rooftops blown away,” said Manlupig.