Mass evacuations in Leyte ahead of “Ruby”

By Ron Gagalac

LEYTE – All day long, busloads of families arrived at evacuation centers in Tacloban – voluntarily leaving their homes.

Authorities gave priority to women, the elderly, and children who seem to feel the tension of another disaster in the making – especially since they went through the trauma of Yolanda barely a year ago.

“Sana po malampasan namin ang trahedyang darating sa amin,” said Aileen Simbajon. “Sana hindi ito matulad sa Yolanda. … Nung nag storm surge yung taas ng tubig hanggang kisame, so para iwas disgrasya ilalayo natin sila.”

The exodus has turned several communities into ghost towns.

But there were some men who stayed to watch their houses or tie them up, to save from further destruction.

Alfred Marga’s house was just constructed a month ago, after Yolanda flattened their community. And again today, he is trying to do all he can to save it.

“Nung Yolanda, bahay ko flooring lang ang natira,” said Marga. “Sinisiguro ko lang para di magiba pamilya ko andun na sa evacuation center.”

Some residents forcibly occupied abandoned buildings in the city to shield themselves from the possible onslaught of Typhoon Ruby.

But those who took shelter at Saint Scholastica building were being asked to move to a safer evacuation center, since the building is considered condemned after it sustained numerous cracks during Yolanda.

One Chinese Buddhist temple has also opened its doors to its neighbors.

But there are those who still to refuse to be evacuated, and it’s now the job of the police to deliver them from danger.

“Ngayon, pinakikiusapan namin,” said Senior Inspector Elmer Jabinas. “Yung LGU my megaphone, nagbabahay bahay at nagasasabi, wag na intayin, kung hindi pa rin umalis, forced evacuations na kami mamaya.”

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