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FLOOD-HIT NORTHERN SAMAR TOWN APPEALS FOR AID



USMAN'S WRATH. The destruction brought about by Tropical Depression Usman seen along the national highway in Lope De Vega, Northern Samar. Mayor Ana Palloc said she provided a list of immediate needs of her people during the visit of Assistant Secretary for the Office of the Presidential Assistant to the Visayas Jonjie Gonzalez on Wednesday (January 3, 2019). (Photo by Roel Amazona)

LOPE DE VEGA, Northern Samar -- Local officials in this storm-hit town made a fresh appeal for immediate assistance from the central government after Tropical Depression “Usman” ravaged low lying communities here.

Mayor Ana Palloc said that during the visit of Assistant Secretary for the Office of the Presidential Assistant to the Visayas Jonjie Gonzalez on Wednesday, she provided a list of immediate needs.

“I asked for shelter assistance and materials for rebuilding their houses. Then I also proposed to elevate our national highway so it won’t be submerged during flooding,” Palloc told reporters on Thursday.

Gonzalez and Northern Samar Governor Jose Ong conducted an aerial survey of flood-hit areas in the province on Jan. 2. The officials also conducted assessment on what the national government can provide to the affected families.

Town residents have been busy removing flood debris out of their houses and business establishments. Some wash their clothes and dry it up on roadsides.

Although water pumps have been providing their needs, the water is only good for cleaning, washing and taking shower and not for drinking.

Palloc said the town’s water system have been badly damaged by massive flooding.

“That’s about PHP5 million worth of damage. We still need to look for fund to fix it. Right now, people here are mainly dependent on bottled water provided by relief groups for their drinking needs,” Palloc said.

The town mayor added that the PHP4 million calamity fund of their town is insufficient for quick response needs.

“I am appealing to the President and to non-government organizations to help our town recover from the worst flood that we ever experienced in the past 50 years,” Palloc said.

Also destroyed by flood water are two school buses used to transport learners from far communities to the town center.

“These buses are very important for our town’s poor high school students because it provide them free transportation from their village to the school,” Palloc added.

Schools in Lope de Vega will resume class on Jan 7 as the local government extended the suspension of classes until Jan. 4.

Lope de Vega Central Elementary School Principal Arnoldo Rosales said all of the more than 500 students from kindergarten to Grade 6 survived, but they will go back to school without any learning supplies.

“There are 24 schools in Lope de Vega and all school supplies of these students were either washed out or soaked by flood waters,” Rosales said.

Although there are still evacuees inside the campus, the principal said that the classes will resume Monday because families are taking shelters in the evacuation center and not in classrooms.

The Lope de Vega municipal police station located along the main road was not spared by the 10-feet deep flooding.

Lope de Vega town police officer-in-charge Sr. Insp. Ronnie Abendan, said that the 16 personnel of the police station moved to the second floor of the building for their safety.

“We were about to leave the building because the flood had reached the second floor and the water is already knee-deep from where we were standing. However, we decided to stay inside the police station because the current was too strong outside,” Abendan recalled.

The town was placed under state of calamity on Dec. 30, which allowed the local government to use their calamity funds for immediate response.

“I wanted to give financial assistance to my residents so that they can start repairing their houses but our calamity fund is not enough that is why I am appealing for help,” Palloc said.

The entire province of Northern Samar has been placed under state of calamity Thursday afternoon.

Twenty of the 25 towns in the province suffered the brunt of heavy rains dumped by “Usman” affecting 185,902 individuals with eight confirmed dead.

Five of the fatalities were from Lope de Vega, two from Victoria and one from Catarman. One boy from Victoria town is still missing.

“Usman” began affecting the country on Dec. 28 as it enhanced northwest monsoon winds, bringing heavy rain across southern part of Luzon and Eastern Visayas regions until New Year’s Eve. (PNA)

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