Vice governor says Agusan Sur ‘Pablo’ victims need more relief aid

VEREULA, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews/10 December) – Survivors of typhoon Pablo may die of hunger and starvation if no additional relief aid would arrive soon, an official warned.

Vice governor Santiago Cane of Agusan del Sur said the province’s disaster fund could not sustain all the affected families in the area in the next few weeks.

“Among all the affected towns here in Agusan del Sur, Veruela suffered the most. We fear that unless additional external aid won’t arrive, people especially children will die of hunger,” he said.

The vice governor explained that the municipal budget of Veruela has already been exhausted and that over 4,000 families are now relying on relief goods for their food.

Cane said all of the town’s 20 barangays were affected, and 10 of these are isolated and virtually impassable.

He added close to 5,000 houses were either totally or partially damaged, forcing many families to live in makeshift tents scattered throughout the town.

He said the typhoon claimed 19 lives all over the province, and seven of the casualties came from Veruela.

“The minimal loss of lives during the storm is attributed to our preparedness. Our barangays were trained for such kind of disasters. But what we did not expect was the destruction it brought to the homes, crops and livelihood.

People might have survived the storm but our biggest fear is when hunger, starvation and diseases start to kill more,” the official said.

Several families tried to salvage the corn and rice grains that got wet during the storm by drying them even if a foul smell had already set in.

“We just harvested most of our crops. We did not save anything. All we can think of that time was saving our lives,” Evangelito Asis said, recounting how he and his wife and grandson managed to run and hide under a bridge to save their lives.

“We only have food to sustain for several days. Our neighbors are drying the sacks they managed to pull out of the flood, [but] we are not sure if those are still safe to eat,” Asis said.

As of December 7, the provincial government estimated the damage to crops and livestock at P378 million and the damage to homes and public infrastructure at P221 million.

A total of 28,779 families or 140,340 individuals were affected, it added. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)