Relief in Tacloban as residents begin rebuilding

Relief in Tacloban as residents begin rebuilding

TACLOBAN, Philippines - The city of Tacloban was spared the worst of Typhoon Hagupit as it tore across the Philippines after making landfall on Saturday (Dec 6) night. However, while the city's residents can breathe a sigh of relief, the work is not yet over.

When Hagupit's arrival was first announced, it caused widespread fear among the city's residents who are only just recovering from Typhoon Haiyan which hit over a year ago. Mass evacuations were implemented across the city and the rest of Samar island - and this time almost everyone heeded the warnings.

However, in the days following the typhoon, residents were relieved to find the damage to the city was much less than expected. "The real success is that over 60,000 people living in vulnerable areas were evacuated," said Richard Sandison, Emergency Response Manager, Plan International. "We now need to get the electricity and water back."

He added: "The roads are passable now and there are no casualties. There is no significant damage to schools and health centres."

Residents of Tacloban have generally been happy with the government's efforts before the typhoon, as well as its response afterwards. "They did whatever they could to have zero casualties," said Ging Ging Eraya, a Tacloban resident. "Not all the problems can be answered by the government but I'm sure they did 85 per cent to help people; they did what they could."

Eraya was one of the unfortunate people who lost everything during Typhoon Haiyan. Afterwards he was moved to temporary housing in a bunk house - and now his house has been damaged for a second time, after being hit by Typhoon Hagupit.

But for the most part, Tacloban has been spared this time around. Although the latest typhoon caused minimal structural damage and no casualties, the pressing issue of finding suitable housing for those made homeless by typhoon Haiyan remains.

"That's our main concern," said Sandison. "There are about 3,000 people living in tents, bunk houses and in evacuation centres - and they are very vulnerable. Thankfully they moved to safer areas (during Typhoon Hagupit) but the long-term solution for them is permanent housing and relocation."

While Tacloban can breathe a sigh of relief that typhoon season is coming to an end, it will still take time before the city is fully back on its feet.


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