Our Mabelle Bagtas is in the field and reports:
The damage was devastating on Olango Island, just off the coast of Mactan, Cebu.
The island’s geographic isolation has been a perennial challenge for the LGU to take care of the needs of the over 41,000 people who live here and pronounced further by the destruction caused by Typhoon Odette “Rai” and more than 76% of the residents lived below the poverty line.
According to the local government, 85% to 95% of homes on Olango were either completely destroyed or had their roofs blown away, leaving them exposed to the elements for weeks already.
Almost all the residents earn a living from fishing or tourism, mostly from foreigners who would come to visit. But they stopped coming here after COVID-19 shut down tourism in the Philippines in 2020.
Odette turned the villages on the island upside down, destroying the roofs and walls of almost all the huts and houses while corrugated sheets dangle from branches and hanging wires. Solar-powered streetlamps and electrical posts are rendered useless after the powerful storm ripped them off the ground and smashed most of them into the ground.
Despite the damages, the townsfolk are still warm. Their spirits and smiles light their dark shelters or lack thereof. It is all they can do as they wait for more aid to reach the island. Many still lack access to potable water, most homes still do not have electricity, while others cannot obtain or afford to buy materials to replace the roofs of their homes.
The situation in Olango is only one example of many that were hard hit by the typhoon in the Visayas and Mindanao. NACSEA Relief have been to many communities and observed that most have yet to receive any form of aid, or clear plan for rehabilitation and recovery for typhoon-affected communities from the LGU, particularly low-income sectors.
For the Olango’s, the long waiting and fervent praying prevailed, as some villagers find hope to receive from NACSEA Relief their house rebuilding materials such as plywood, cement, GI sheets, umbrella nails, common nails, steel bars and plywood. Everyone was very grateful as they can already rebuild their homes and be back to regain a normal and decent life.