Post Yolanda: Reconnecting a building-less area

By Juzel P. Danganan

MANILA, Nov. 8 (PNA) — During the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan), houses were washed away, an airport was instantly removed from the map, about 10 ships were pushed by winds far into the city.

Some cabinet secretaries, such as Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)and Dinky Soliman of Deparment of Social Welfare and Development, were already in Leyte before “Yolanda/Haiyan” arrived. However, the strength of the typhoon was so strong that their prepared relief packs were also washed away.

Despite the destruction “Yolanda” brought, however, the situation was far more worst after its deadly passing, as people had resulted into scrambling food, finding and contacting their relatives and some rebuilding their homes.

Time was of essence in the post-operations, as every second was important, both in communication and accessibility to the worst hit areas. There was a dire need to clear every tree, every rock, every cadaver, every building that was blocking the way to the municipalities.

Aside from accessibility, communication was also vital in the search for relatives, but it needed another factor to fully function — as it cannot easily be attained without power, cellphone batteries did not last that long.

Eight days after the typhoon struck Tacloban and other nearby areas, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) under the Department of Energy (DOE), came in quickly to assist them in rebuilding the facilities, according to Leyte Electric Cooperative Inc 2 (LEYECO 2) general manager Maria Rosario Avestor.

”It was fast, it was through the NEA. It asked immediately on Nov. 16 after the typhoon, initially we were given Php522 million as loan. At that time, it wasn’t sure we were given a subsidy,” Avestor said.

Recalling Tacloban and Palo being ground zero, Avestor presumed that many of the people would not have lights right then and there, without the intervention of the national government and that the consumers would have another baggage with them.

”Maybe, lots of people will still have no lights, if we had not received the grant. We would have collected from consumers, it will be a longer process,” she said.

A year after the worst, Avestor said that LEYECO 2 had obtained a hundred percent energization, comprising two municipalities and one city, which is Tacloban. To its relief, the re-energization of the houses was completed by March 28, ahead of its initial target of March 31.

The electric cooperative’s materials had upgraded to bigger and better qualities, as it was determined to avoid another devastation. Avestor said that LEYECO 2 shortened the distance of its poles to 60 meters and that the poles were also upgraded to steel and it had a huge width.

To prevent falling cables along the highways, she added that the length of steel poles along the highways was also shortened to 50 meters.

However, he said that the devastation had also triggered the energization of the sitios, but had originated from a separate funding, also through NEA, under the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP).

The fast loan turned into better news, as the DBM had decided that the Php 522 million loan was decided to be converted into a subsidy, according to Avestor.

”By January, we were called again, informing us that it will be converted as subsidy. Because there was subsidy, the liquidation process followed. Depending on the progress report, we liquidate, they replenish right away,” she said.

With gratitude to the urgent request being granted, the LEYECO 2 head told her member consumers to be thankful towards the government, as it shielded them to another burden.

“I’ve told our member consumers that they should be thankful, if it wasn’t there, our rates would have increased. Because it’s a subsidy, purely free, the consumers will not pay anything, as well as us,” she said.

Avestor added that LEYECO 2 was not only the electric cooperative that had received a financial assistance, as others also received a hundred percent grant.

”We are very thankful to the Office of the President, through the Department of Energy (DOE) and NEA, that we have an outright grant. Otherwise, it will be difficult for us to restore fast,” she said. (PNA)