‘Ursula’ leaves P66M damage

CEBU, Philippines — Tropical storm Ursula left an initial damage of at least P66 million to infrastructure and agriculture in the towns of Medellin and Daanbantayan, prompting the two local government units to declare a state of calamity.

Medellin Mayor Joven Mondigo Jr. estimated an initial amount of damage to residential houses and agriculture in 15 out of 19 barangays at P41 million. Mondigo pegged the initial cost of damage to residential houses at P12.5 million.

As of yesterday, the town recorded 2,542 houses partially damaged and 98 houses felled by the typhoon. Mondigo also estimated an initial amount of P15.89 million in damage to agriculture and fisheries in his town. The biggest chunk of the loss comes from sugarcane and other crops amounting to P7 million.

The amount is expected to increase because four more barangays have yet to submit their damage assessment report.

In Daanbantayan, Mayor Sun Shimura said a total of 9,765 houses were partially damaged while 5,248 were totally wrecked. Shimura, however, could not provide the data on how much is the cost of damage to residential houses in his municipality.

But he said typhoon Ursula had left at least P25 million damage to government infrastructures including fish ports, covered courts, and street lights. Both municipalities of Medellin and Daanbantayan are asking for relief assistance from Cebu Province and the national government.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who visited the two municipalities yesterday, promised that assistance will be given to the affected local government units. The governor said she already called up Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD)-7 Director Rebecca Gaemala and requested that financial assistance be distributed to residents whose houses got damaged by the typhoon.

“Actually, duna man gyud sila’y pondo para ana unta and so RD Gaemala promised to call up central office,” Garcia said.

Calamity declaration unnecessary for Cebu

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Niel Sanchez is also recommending Cebu Province to be placed under a state of calamity. He said the declaration is necessary to allow the utilization of the P66 million Quick Response Fund.

This is 30% of the P220 million Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund of the province.

He explained that since Daanbantayan and Medellin had already made the declarations, the province can now also make a separate declaration.

“Based on the new memo, two municipalities is already sufficient enough for the province to declare,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said he will make a formal recommendation to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) and to Garcia for the declaration of the Province of Cebu under a state of calamity.

The governor, however, said she is not keen on the recommendation because of its possible repercussions.

“I don’t think there is a need because we all know the Central and Southern parts were not that affected. I think it is enough that the towns of Medellin and Daanbantayan have themselves declared a state of calamity in each of their local government units,” Garcia said.

She explained that the declarations made by Daanbantayan and Medellin already gave them access to their respective quick response funds—P2.5 million for Medellin and P3.9M for Daanbantayan.

“We might be sending the wrong signal also to the rest of the country and internationally. It could affect our tourism and investor confidence,” Garcia said.

Cebu City aid

Meanwhile, Cebu City officials led by Mayor Edgardo Labella will visit the Municipalities of Daanbantayan and Medellin today to turn over relief assistance.

Labella said they will bring sacks of rice, blankets, construction materials, tents, canned goods, and tarpaulins for the affected residents.

A total of 3,000 gallons of water will also be distributed to the affected areas.

“Mao na ang immediate nga mahatag nato,” said Labella.

Labella said the relief assistance the city is distributing today came from private donors and from the Department of Social Welfare Services.

The city government earlier sent its Quick Response Team to conduct an assessment on the extent of the damage and what immediate assistance the city can provide to the affected residents.

“Ako sad gipa-assess didto kung kinahanglan ta magpadala og health personnel,” said Labella.

Labella said based on the interviews, the towns are really in need of construction materials. He said a private group has already pledged to send galvanized iron.

Labella, however, said the city has yet to decide on whether financial assistance will be given. — With Mary Ruth R. Malinao (FREEMAN)




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