TACLOBAN CITY - Potable water is now flowing into this devastated city nine days after Supertyphoon "Yolanda" struck.
More delivery trucks are rolling into this capital of Leyte province as well as in Ormoc City, providing fresh relief items and augmenting the transport capability of the severely handicapped Task Force Yolanda.
An official of the Local Water Utilities Administration, Byron Carbon, said in a meeting presided over by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas that the water supply in the city was brought to "normal" on Sunday.
Carbon's announcement was one of the few bright spots in the national government-led relief and recovery operations for the hard-hit towns in Leyte. The good news elicited applause from national and local government officials who have been meeting daily to update and coordinate the various clusters engaged in the government's response to the devastation.
Roxas has been presiding over the daily coordination meetings at a small multipurpose hall of the Leyte Sports Complex that has been converted into an operations center. He is the vice chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
According to Carbon, all the main pipes, with its delivery system, are now operational. By operational, he was referring to the pipes running along the road network and not necessarily those going to households.
He said "yes" when asked by Roxas if the water was "chlorinated," with mud and residual dirt flushed out of the water delivery lines.
"The water is potable," Carbon said.
Roxas, however, asked the Department of Health to check the quality of the water amid fears of contamination from decomposing bodies and debris that still dominate the city's severely disfigured surroundings. "Choose several points to ensure that water is safe," he said.
With the city's water system up and running, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino said he was moving the water treatment plant to the municipality of Basey in Samar province to provide much-needed potable water to residents there.
Before water service was restored in Tacloban, survivors resorted to scooping from streams, catching rainwater in buckets and smashing open pipes to draw what is left from disabled pumping stations. With at least 600,000 people homeless, the demand is massive.