LEYTE, Dec. 10, 2014 — Although partly hit by violent typhoon Ruby over the weekend, the Archdiocese of Palo did not waste time to reach out to the nearest suffragan diocese of Calbayog to provide relief goods in towns in need of help, that is Villareal and Talalora, which were accessible unlike the town of Sta. Rita.
This is the local church’s way of returning the kindness that other dioceses had extended to the parishes in the Archdiocese after super typhoon Yolanda hit Tacloban City and neighboring coastal towns on Nov. 8 last year.
“It is the character of the Church to be ready to extend help and with our experience during the Yolanda, there were many help that arrived to the Archdiocese of Palo, not only the NGOs but also many churches and dioceses and archdioceses around the Philippines went here to help,” Fr. Al Cris Badana said.
Badana, head of the Relief and Rehabilitation Unit of the Archdiocese of Palo, said the unit took three hundred from the 2,000 relief packs pre-positioned by the R and R Unit at the command center in the Seminary compound in Palo, Leyte three days ahead of the expected landfall of typhoon Ruby. This decision was reached when the unit took note from the initial assessment that the needs in the Archdiocese are not serious.
For now, the unit is giving much attention to Malibago in Babatngon, Leyte which suffered much destruction due to an alleged storm surge coupled by the strong winds and intense rains that Ruby brought when it hit the town.
He said there is one island, a barangay of Babatngon, that was extremely devastated by the violent typhoon, which the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center had initially declared a super typhoon. This will be in addition to some barangays in Dagami and Abuyog that also experienced the brunt of Ruby’s wrath suffered massive flooding. These parishes are Code Red in the Color Coding system adopted by the Archdiocese of Palo R&R unit.
“We continually make assessment and communicate with different parishes for update because there could be situation wherein after the storm they were okay but because they are isolated, they feel the needs and gaps few days after maybe because no one reaches out to them for help,” Badana stressed, adding, “This is one concern that we also look into.”
The mission station in Patoc, Dagami is one of the areas of special concern for RCAP- R & R unit.
According to Badana, the unit was able to gain access to the main mission station in Patoc but there are barangay chapels under the said station that are inaccessible by any form of vehicle except by foot as of Dec. 9. This makes the delivery of relief goods to those areas very difficult.
Even while the typhoon was yet about to leave the areas covered by the Archdiocese of Palo, the RCAP-R&R unit divided into three teams to check on the parishes in Mahaplag, Capoocan and Babatngon. RNA were immediately conducted in Abuyog, Burauen, Carigara , Palo and Tacloban.
“It was by God’s mercy that we returned to the command center from a safe travel safe to the different parishes in the archdiocese,” Badana remarked.
He reported that none of the parishes that were repaired and rehabilitated following destruction due to typhoon Yolanda last year suffered major damage in the onslaught of typhoon Ruby.
The archdiocese uses a system in giving out help, such as in distribution of relief goods,going through specific lines of communication, from the chapel leaders in the barangays to the parish and finally, to the command center of the archdiocese.
He said that as of Dec. 7, 9:00 p.m., the RCAP-R&R unit initially recorded 12,037 persons and 632 families from different vicariates of Archdiocese of Palo who sought refuge in parishes and other facilities of the local church, including the 200 individuals who evacuated to the Pope Francis Center in Brgy. Arado, Palo. Most of these evacuees returned home at around 7:00 in the morning of Dec. 7.
Badana said that besides the food packs, the Archdiocese will conduct psycho-social sessions with the children, based on the results of the RNA the RCAP-R&R unit conducted because “they are the most vulnerable in this situation.”
He also said that should the situation in the parishes within the Archdiocese of Palo normalize, the parishes will positively respond to the call of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to help raise funds for Alay Kapwa in order to replenish the amount used for the assistance extended to the dioceses affected by calamities. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCP News)