ORMOC CITY – Two people were killed and more than 100 injured after a magnitude 6.5 quake badly affected Ormoc City and the town of Kananga at 4:03 in the afternoon of July 6. The Philippine Insitute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that the earthquake’s epicenter was eight kilometers west of Jaro, Leyte, is just adjacent to the two LGUs. As of this report,
Philvolcs has recorded more than 600 aftershocks.
Dramatic rescue In Kananga, seven survivors and one dead man were pulled out from the rubble of the three storey Queda Building, a pensionne cum shopping center. The structure collapsed and was the only one that was affected by the quake.
Leyte governor Dominic Petilla, who was present during the rescue and retrieval operations, said that the building collapsed with the third floor and the second crashing down vertically.
One person died in the collapsed building, identified as Gerry Movilla, 43, who was attending a livelihood training program by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
It was also noted that the same building served as an evacuation center during super-typhoon Yolanda, but did not collapse then.
Petilla, in an interview with CNN, said he talked to a survivor brought to the Ormoc District Hospital (ODH). “Yung survivor na babae na nandun sa ODH, parang bigla daw dumilim, wala
silang makita, kasama niya yung anak niya,” he said. “And then, may nariring siya na mga nagsasalita, so gumapang sila dun palabas unti-unti hanggang nakalabas sila.”
Store cashier Mariane Superales, on the other hand, told reporters just lifted her fate to God.
She said she was inside the building along with a mother and two children. They used a cellphone to guide rescuers to where they were located.
In Ormoc City, Rhissa Rosales, 19, of Sitio Welcome, Brgy. Cabaon-an, died after a concrete wall fell on her. However, neighbors said she managed to protect her 5-month old child who was pulled to safety by her parents.
Meanwhile, this is the first calamity to test Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez’s mettle in handling a crisis. He drew admiration from residents for immediately convening the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and stayed up late to monitor the situation. An incident reporting was called by 10:00 Pm of July 6.
Mayor Gomez said he was caught by the earthquake while signing documents in the mayor’s office. Together with 7 other people, they ducked under his table and stayed there until the quaking stopped. Then, they ran outside. “Nagkasya kaming walo ilalim sa table ko,” he recalls. Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, on the other hand, said she had just finished taking a
the unified and centralized distribution. “Maayo ning gibuhat ni Mayor,” said Warren O. Chu of the RCOB.
The Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay, in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Ormoc, then did a unified distribution of relief goods by Saturday and Sunday. The goods, coming from various sources, were reported to the city first before getting dispatched.
Troy Bumagat of the RCO said that there was also a joint distribution with the RC of Kankabato and ShelterBox for the distribution of Aqua Boxes to help villages with water supply problems, also on Sunday.
However, a heavy rain halted the relief distribution at 3:00 PM of Saturday. The distributors were advised to wait for better weather because the roads could be dangerous.
Ciriaco Tolibao, city disaster risk reduction management officer, said the dispatch of emergency relief by the City Government was swift.
In a reporting at the incidence command center held at 10:00 in the evening of July 6, it was learned that the City immediately dispatched shelter kits to areas that could be reached safely considering it was already dark.
Fatima Ebcas, who reported in behalf of Tolibao that night, said that the various rescue units were dispatched, including a team to Kananga which is helping in the rescue and research retrievals.
Evacuation of the victims to safer areas was also done by Saturday, after the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office here finished assessment of government infrastructures that can safely harbor them.
A priority, said Tolibao, are the 34 families in Brgy. Milagro as they were just camped out on the roadside near their collapsed houses.
In Brgy. Lake Danao, which is within a protected area, the affected residents have been evacuated to safer grounds but will have to bear with the cold and the rain with only tarpaulins to shelter them from the elements.
The Shelter Box, a humanitarian organization that provides temporary shelters, helped the residents to put up their tents as of this report.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office, on the other hand, have finished validation of the totally and partially damaged houses. They have documented 536 totally damaged houses and 62 partially damaged in the 12 affected villages consisting of Cabaon-an, Tongonan, Milagro, Danao, Cabintan, Gaas, Liberty, Bagong, Nueva Vista, Quezon Jr., San Jose and Hugpa.
Water and resettlement
Mayor Gomez said that Ormoc’s biggest problems came to fore with the earthquake. These are the need for resettlement and water.
Two days before the quake, city councilor Bennet Pongos Jr. has asked radio to announce that the city was looking for at least 30 hectares, whether in one big parcel or separate parcels of land, for relocation purposes. “NHA has the money for houses,” said Pongos, “what we need is the land.”
The city’s problem with its water supply was also magnified with the power blackout that resulted from the quake. Ormoc has 29 electric pumps but only 10 has ready standby generators. 15 percent of the city’s water supply comes from the Ahag Filtration Gallery, which has to be shut off when heavy rains occur as it could not cope with muddy water. The mud in the water was also made worst by the landslides up the mountain.
As an immediate solution, the City is already in the process of having the Ahag Filtration Gallery improved. However, Mayor Gomez is looking at getting Ormoc’s future water supply from the 138-hectare Lake Danao which could meet the city’s future water demand for at least 25 years.