RELIEF. The Department of Social Welfare and Development sends assistance to those affected by the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that hit Leyte on July 6, 2017. Photo from DSWD
MANILA, Philippines – The magnitude 6.5 earthquake that hit Leyte last Thursday, July 6, not only left two people dead and more than a hundred others injured. A total of 1,837 families or 9,185 persons have also been displaced, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Out of the total number of displaced Leyte residents, 73 families or 365 persons are staying in an evacuation center while the rest are staying with relatives and friends.
Based on initial findings, there are a total of 1,764 damaged houses in Eastern Visayas. Of these houses, 1,029 are partially damaged while 735 are totally damaged.
In a statement on Sunday, July 9, the DSWD said it has distributed P3.2 million worth of food and non-food items to affected communities in Kananga and Ormoc City through its field office.
These include 100 family food packs, 200 pieces of malong, 100 blankets, 100 mats, 67 tents from Australia, and one tent from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The families of the two reported fatalities – an 18-year-old woman who died after being hit by falling debris and an unidentified person who died inside a collaped building in Kananga – have received burial assistance from the DSWD. They will also receive an additional P5,000 in the coming week.
Disaster preparedness and resilience
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said the experience of residents in Leyte highlighted the importance of raising awareness and educating the public on disaster preparedness and mitigation.
"The effectiveness of plans for disaster preparedness does not only lie on the government but a collective effort between the state and its citizens. This is the reason why the government continues to engage the public to participate in disaster planning, orientations, exercises and other activities. By participating and working together, we can save more lives," Taguiwalo said.
This was echoed by Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) geologist Charmaine Villamin during the first day of the Agos Summit on Disaster Preparedness last Friday, July 7.
Villamin added that the post-earthquake photos alone point to substandard construction.
"[Of the] few photos that came in, [they were] photos of damaged buildings. Just by looking at the pictures that we see, they are substandard," she said.
The Leyte earthquake is both a warning and a guide for residents of Metro Manila, Villamin also stressed.
From July 14 to 17, Metro Manila is poised to conduct a metro-wide earthquake drill in preparation for the so-called "Big One," a major earthquake that could strike with the movement of the West Valley Fault.
In the Philippines, July is National Disaster Resilience Month, with authorities aiming to remind everyone of the need to reduce risks by being prepared for disasters. – Rappler.com