Monday, November 30, 2009

Evacuees may spend Christmas season in tents

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: November 29, 2009

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA — Lorna Labadia, 35, was sorting plastic bottles and metal scraps, which she would sell to a junk shop, hoping to augment her husband’s income so they could have something for their three children this Christmas.

Labadia was in front of a white tent as she was also looking after her daughter, who has been sickly since they were forced to transfer inside a tent since Tropical Storm “Ondoy” struck late September.

Hers is among the almost 200 families still stuck inside tents in Barangay Tadlac who are prepared to spend Christmas inside their respective tents.

Labadia said her home has been flooded since September so they did not have any choice but to live inside the borrowed tent. But, she said, her children had been complaining of the heat during the day, while it was usually extremely cold at night.

“We just have to adjust since we don’t have any choice. Even our relatives’ homes are still flooded up to now,” said Labadia, whose house was still flooded up to her knees.

Labadia’s family shares the tent with some relatives. Seven persons live inside their tent.

“We felt very desperate at the start, but we could not do something about it, so we chose to continue living our lives,” said Labadia, whose husband also works in a nearby junk shop.

She said they wanted to go home already but were worried of their children’s health.

She said the flood water had a foul smell already. “If we need to spend our Christmas here, there’s nothing we can do.”

Labadia’s house is located near Laguna lake and water rises with heavy rains.

Lita Hernandez, 75, another resident of Barangay Tadlac said her nine grandchildren had also been complaining of the extreme heat inside their tent.

“I would just tell them that we would return home soon,” but, she said, it might really take some more weeks.

Hernandez said their home still had water inside so there was still no chance to move in.

She said the flood water was still almost knee-high when they visited their area a few days ago.

Village chief Marvin Bautista said the residents could use the tents until the flood had subsided.

The tents were lent by some nongovernment organizations (NGOs) in September.

Emergency classes

Teachers of the Tadlac Elementary School, meanwhile, were still struggling to help their students adjust to the situation.

The school was also gravely flooded last September where flood water was waist-high.

Last October, a large tent was put up to accommodate most of the students, but it was washed out by Typhoon “Santi.”

Now, classes of Grades 1 to 4 are held inside a chapel, while those of Grades 5 and 6 are held inside a private subdivision’s vacant clubhouse.

School principal Sylvia Encabo said she hoped that classes would be normal again by January. Karen Lapitan, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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