Dinagat Islands Gov seeks help, says province “leveled to the ground” by ‘Odette’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 December) —  “Dinagat Islands has been leveled to the ground by Super Typhoon Odette,”  its Capitol buildings among those destroyed, Governor Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao  posted on her social media page on Saturday, a little past 12 a.m., where she also appealed for “food, potable water, temporary shelters, fuel, hygiene kits, medical supplies,” and assistance in “restoring electricity, running water, and telecommunications.”

Devastation in San Jose town, capital of the province of Dinagat Islands. Photo from Gov. Bag-ao’s post | See more photos

“Our hospitals have also suffered significant damage rendering some of them inoperable. The fields and boats of our farmers and fisherfolk have been decimated. Most of our commercial and cargo vessels, in spite of taking all necessary precautions, are now unsuitable for sea voyages effectively cutting us off from the rest of the country,” Bag-ao said in her post, her first since Odette’s landfall in the province’s Cagdianao town at 3:10 p.m. on Thursday.

Cagdianao was where ‘Odette’ made its second landfall.  The first was at 1:30 p.m. in Siargao, Surigao del Norte

Both areas were cut off from the rest of the country since the super typhoon made their landfalls there.

Damages in the wake of super typhoon Odette. Photo from Gov. Bag-ao’s post | See more photos

Bag-ao said they have yet to know the extent of the damage in the province’s seven towns as they have yet to establish communication and access but she noted that “our landscape in the aftermath (of ‘Odette’) is reminiscent if not worse than when Yolanda hit our province” in November 2013.

“We may have survived, but we cannot do the same in the coming days because of our limited capacities as an island province. Through your help, we will be able to rise again,” Bag-ao said.

Addressing her fellow Dinagatnons,  she declared, “we will get through this together. Our Capitol buildings may have been destroyed, but your Provincial Government is still and will always be here to work for you as we restore our lives and livelihood.”

According to Bag-ao, “few casualties are still being confirmed in the capital municipality, with no data yet from the other towns.”

But she pointed out that early preparation by the communities “ensured our survival.”

This photograph, with the provincial capitol of Dinagat Islands as backdrop, was posted on the Facebook page of Arlene Bag-ao, with this caption: “Mga Dinagatnon, ang atong bag-ong Gobernador, !” (Dinagatnons, our new Governor) Arlene “Kaka” Javellana Bag-Ao!” (Dinagatnons, our new Governor). Bag-ao, a human rights lawyer who had earlier served as ltwo-term representative of Dinagat in Congress and before that, as Akbayan party-list representative, toppled the Ecleo dynasty in the province in the 2019 polls.

“However, we have lost our homes. Walls and roofs were torn and blown off by Odette like paper. We have a dwindling supply of food and water. Electricity and telecommunications are down. This is why we urgently and humbly ask for everyone’s help.”

Map of the province of Dinagat Islands courtesy of Google Maps

She said she sent some personnel from the Provincial Government to the mainland – the nearest mainland province to Dinagat is Surigao del Norte – “to find a way to deliver our call for help through all means possible.”

Dinagat Islands province was carved out of Surigao del Norte and had its first election of officials in 2007.  (MindaNews)