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139 quake-displaced families now allowed to go home

ORMOC CITY – 139 families who have been living in 13 evacuation centers here that were put up after the July 6 magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit the city, have been given the clearance to return
to their homes last September 8, Friday.

Ciriaco Tolibao, city disaster risk reduction management officer, said that the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) has certified that dwellers in Puroks 1,2,3 and 4 of Brgy. Lake Danao
can now be allowed to return home, except for 45 houses that were found in the area and declared “unsafe”. The evacuees were excited to return to their homes, Tolibao said, albeit they good-naturedly complained they had more things to bring home now than when they evacuated. The evacuation centers here were visited often by generous donors who gave them many things like foams and mattresses, solar panels, pails and jerry cans, aside from food packs. Tolibao added that another 311 families from the declared “danger zones” of Puroks 5,6,7 and 8, are also poised to leave
the evacuation centers, not back to their homes, but to a temporary relocation area in Brgy. Lake Danao, which has been declared “safe” by MGB.

Tolibao said that this was the clamor of the evacuees because they wanted their lives to return to normal, and they needed to be near their farms. On the other hand, temporary learning centers (TLC) would also be put up in Brgy. Lake Danao, so that the schooling of the displaced children can continue. Lake Danao’s elementary school has already been abandoned and declared unsafe for any use. DepEd Ormoc Supt. Manuel Albaño suggested that the funds for the TLCs be taken from the Special Education Fund (SEF) of the city government to hasten construction. He said that it would only take around two weeks for the TLCs to be constructed.

The decision to allow the evacuees to return to their home barangay was reached by the technical working group on earthquake recovery and rehab chaired by councilor Bennet Pongos.
Pongos said that before giving the go-signal for the evacuees to return to Lake Danao, he conferred with Mayor Richard Gomez over the phone about the matter, who gave his permission to do so.
Meanwhile, another 267 families from Brgy. Milagro will have to stay longer in the evacuation camps as their homes have been declared “uninhabitable” already by the MGB. These were houses lining the cliffs along the highways upland, some of which have tumbled down the ravine already.
However, Tolibao said relocating them was also urgent as they were already overstaying their welcome at the Milagro Elementary School. The evacuees are occupying two classrooms, which the school wants to use already.

The City is looking for an area where to provide them with temporary shelters. Tzu Chi Foundation has committed to give 250 temporary houses, and councilor Bennet Pongos said that the Milagro evacuees be given priority.
Mayor Richard Gomez has instructed city legal counsel Atty. Jasper Lucero to make the acquisition of relocation sites for the earthquake victims as a priority. However, it is easier said than done.
Atty. Lucero said that unlike buying for a private use, government procedures are ticklish, not to mention problems with CARP registration and the titles.
On the other hand, the National Housing Authority (NHA) said it is now ready with the funds to construct at least 887 houses for the earthquake victims. There is still a shortfall of more than 1,000 houses as Ormoc has 2,272 families that were affected by the earthquake.

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