Some E. Samar churches not fit for evacuation

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MANILA, Dec. 4, 2014— Some Catholic churches in Eastern Samar may not be structurally sound for evacuation as typhoon “Ruby” heads its way towards the province, a local church official said.

Fr. Neil Tenefrancia, vice chair of the Borongan Diocesan Commission on Mass Media and Communications, said these churches include the old ones and those in areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda last year.

“This is our concern now because we can’t trust the physical strength of some of these churches,” Tenefrancia said.

He cited what happened to the Guiuan Church which was reduced to rubble during the onslaught of Yolanda.

According to him, many people would have been hurt if they were allowed to take refuge inside the church.

“So what happened to the church in Guiuan is the scenario that we are also trying to avoid,” he said.

The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines earlier appealed to parishes, churches and Catholic schools to open their doors to evacuees.

The priest said the local church is in close coordination with the local government units (LGUs) as they prepare for the new storm that threatens to be the strongest of the year.

The diocese yesterday held a meeting where priests prepared for the potential landfall of Ruby early evening of Saturday in Borongan City.

Tenefrancia said the diocese has also asked the National Food Authority’s local office to reserve an initial 1,000 sacks of rice for the diocese in case there will be a need for emergency and relief operations.

“But it’s just a proposal of the diocese because we know that NFA’s priority are the LGUs,” he added.

The LGUs have already been asked by the Eastern Samar provincial disaster and risk reduction management (PDRRM) council to designate alternative evacuation centers.

PDRRM officer Levi Nicart, in a state news report, said they are now looking for other options since about 30 percent of old evacuation centers such as covered courts and schools were destroyed by Yolanda.

The agency also reported that six of 23 towns in Eastern Samar are highly vulnerable to flooding while several towns facing the Pacific Ocean are at risk to seal level rise. (CBCPNews)

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