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Homeless for Christmas in paradise

SIPALAY CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Search and rescue operations continue for the remaining 17 persons who went missing here when Category 5 storm Odette (Rai) went on an onslaught in Sugarlandia’s southern corridor as relief operations continue to be conducted over this city of more than 70,000 people.

CHEATING DEATH. Carmelina Batubatan, 82, thought she will die when Typhoon Odette hit them in Gil Montilla village in Sipalay City. She recalls her old age and weak legs made it difficult for her to evacuate. | Photo by Nikki Magbanua
CHEATING DEATH. Carmelina Batubatan, 82, thought she will die when Typhoon Odette hit them in Gil Montilla village in Sipalay City. She recalls her old age and weak legs made it difficult for her to evacuate. | Photo by Nikki Magbanua

City Hall figures, meanwhile, showed 96 sub-villages in 17 villages here were affected by floods triggered by heavy rains brought by Odette

Major James Latayon, chief of police here, told DNX the SAR has taken on a wider scope with the arrival of the Philippine Coast Guard’s SAR vessel, BRP Nueva Vizcaya.

The City Engineering and Agriculture, on the other hand, has reported an estimated P50.3 million worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure as of 21 December 2021.

victim of odette
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As of December 20, the death toll here stands at 16 with 74 injured while the number of missing persons is at seven.

Danilo Bogtae, risk reduction management coordinator, said the number of houses damaged or destroyed is now at more than 14,000, a figure apparent as one enters the city.

Houses with roofs blown off or those reduced to a pile of lumber can be seen along the national highway all the way to the poblacion (city proper), memories of Odette’s more than 200 kilometers per hour winds that barrelled through here.

another victim of typhoon Odette
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This city was among the three cities placed under Public Storm Warning Signal No. 4 when Odette hit land on 17 December 2021.

Theoretically, it can cause “very heavy damage,” to high risk structures, the advisory of State weather bureau PAGASA said.

A look here suggests the theory is true and many families here would have to spend Christmas homeless, waterless and powerless – their condition already bad as the pandemic had affected the city’s once bustling tourism industry.

homeless with Odette
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Power and water lines have yet to be restored 96 sub villages have been affected by flooding, and 44 of which were destroyed by a landslide.

Bogtae told DNX clearing operations are still being done in search for possible missing individuals.

Probationary Ensign Marlou Cloma, one of the Coast Guard SAR team leader, told DNX rescue units, including theirs, continue to comb rivers and landslide hit areas searching for survivors.

Or bodies.

“It is now mostly search and retrieval (of bodies,” Cloma told DNX.

Mira Nicole Magbanua
Mira Nicole Magbanua
Nicole Magbanua is a voice artist, a fledgling journalist, and a driven young leader, out to maximize her full potential through a mic, a script, and her vocal chords.
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