Residents in Sta. Josefa, Agsur badly affected by Pablo; need immediate help

Dec. 07, 2012

“We need assistance for the reconstruction of houses.  We also need sacks of rice, clothes and medicines.  As of today, we only mustered 300 sacks of rice which we divided in the 11 villages.  We were only able to distribute foods good for one day.  We’re still awaiting help from the provincial government,” Sta. Josefa Vice Mayor Simon Caguiat said.

By ALFRED S. DEPALA/Correspondent
Davao Today

STA. JOSEFA, Agusan del Sur, Philippines — Three days after typhoon Pablo hit Mindanao, residents from this second class municipality are still in a state of shock due to the unimaginable damages the typhoon has brought.

On Thursday, Vice Mayor Simon Caguiat told that three individuals from Awao village were killed due to landslide.  He identified them as Lilia Flores, 60; and couple Guillermo and Josie Cataag.

Grabe gyud ang sitwasyon dinhi.  Halos tanan apektado (The situation here is getting worse.  Almost everybody is affected),” he said.

The town is home to about 22,000 population in 11 political villages.

Some 1,500 residents, according to Caguiat, are temporarily sheltered in a covered court in Poblacion village.  Most of them are from Awao, a village said to be mostly affected due to flashfloods.  As early as 2 AM Thursday, they vacated from their homes and livelihood.

Residents whose houses were totally damaged also sought refuge here.  They come from the villages of Poblacion and Concepcion.

The municipal government estimated about PHP 100 million cost of damage in private properties alone.

“This is the first time that it happened here,” Ofelia Simugan, a resident in Poblacion village said.

She said houses were destroyed if not blown away and thousands of trees were uprooted.  “We didn’t expect the winds (brought by Pablo) would be that strong.”

Since Tuesday, electricity lines have bogged down while potable water is still unavailable.

The Agusan del Sur Cooperative, Inc. reportedly announced that it would take about three months to bring the electricity back because its main line in Bunawan town was affected.

“Communication lines also bogged down and only returned Wednesday night, albeit it’s still erratic,” she added.

Simugan, also an agricultural technician of the Department of Agriculture, said that at 2 AM on Tuesday, Pablo’s winds and rain started hitting Poblacion village.

The bus terminal in their village was totally wrecked as well as the wet market, grain center and daycare center.  The village gym was partially damaged while house roofs were blown away to rice paddies.

“All mills were also destroyed,” lamented Simugan.

Farming is the main livelihood of the people in Sta. Josefa, producing rice, corn, rubber, palm oil and calamansi (Calamondin or Citrofortunella microcarpa).

“We need whatever help the people can extend.  We need rice and clothes, especially for those who are living in mountainous areas,” Simugan said.

As of Thursday, residents are starting to reconstruct their houses from whatever they can salvage from the wreckage and whatever they can buy.  But hardware materials like G.I. sheets and nails are running out of stock.

“We need assistance for the reconstruction of houses.  We also need sacks of rice, clothes, medicines,” Caguiat said.

As of Thursday, they only mustered 300 sacks of rice which they divided in the 11 villages.  “We were only able to distribute foods good for one day.  We’re still awaiting help from the provincial government,” he added.

Evacuees who are temporarily in Poblacion gymnasium were also extended medical assistance like anti-tetanus shots.

Residents in other villages, so far, only received a kilo of rice, a can of sardines and a pack of noodle per family.

The municipal government has yet to collate data for the affected population and other possible casualties.  (Alfred S. Depala/

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