By Rene Acosta - February 14, 2017
THE government said on Tuesday it has completely restored power in Surigao del Norte while it was also working to bring back water in the affected areas, three days after the powerful earthquake shook the province and left it in shambles.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the relief efforts were continuing for the residents of the province, as most of them remained camped out of their dwellings, which was exacerbated by fear of continuing aftershocks.
“Power supply has been restored in all of the municipalities hit by the earthquake, including in Surigao City, although there was a brief power interruption by dawn today due to the powerful aftershock,” NDRRMC Spokesman Mina Marasigan said.
“For the supply of water, it has also been restored in most of the municipalities affected. Repair is only ongoing in the municipalities of Mainit and San Francisco,” Marasigan said during a news briefing on Tuesday.
Marasigan said at least 1,790 houses and other infrastructure—including roads, bridges, public hospitals, schools and even private buildings—have been damaged from Saturday’s temblor, which killed eight people and injured at least 202 others.
Classes and even work in offices, especially in Surigao City, remained temporarily suspended as structural engineers continue to assess the soundness of affected buildings.
“We are not allowing people to return yet to their buildings, because we are still awaiting the results of our engineers’ assessments,” Marasigan said. “Even for high-rise buildings, we have issued a call for temporary closure until we have declarations that those establishments are safe because we continue to have aftershocks.”
Initially, the quake caused damage amounting to at least P112.45 million worth of infrastructure, but Marasigan said they were expecting the amount would still increase as assessments by the local government, the regional disaster body and engineers were continuing.
Included in the damaged infrastructure were at least 13 school buildings.
Marasigan said the assessments were going hand in hand with the ongoing relief operations for the affected residents, most of whom choose to remain in tents outside their houses damaged by the earthquake.
Others opted to remain outside their dwellings, as they are fearful of the aftershocks that could collapse their houses.
“For now, part of our focus is to sustain our services there, since they continue to experience aftershocks. Hopefully, in the coming days, we could already start early recovery and, eventually, for the rehabilitation and recovery efforts,” Marasigan said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry in Surigao is assuring supply conditions in earthquake-hit Surigao is normal, and prime and basic commodities were rolled out in the area on Tuesday.
In a follow-up message on Monday, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the supply of goods in Surigao remains under normal conditions, and prices are seen to remain stable, as the earthquake has neither effected logistical connectivity or damaged supply sources in the city.
“The flow of goods is not affectred, because they pass through port and land from Butuan and Davao. The airport has been affected, and may take a month to rehabilitate,” Lopez said in a message to reporters.
Initial estimates of damage caused by the 6.7-magnitude earthquake total around P70 million.
Lopez said retail establishments, such as Parkway Mall, Absolute Essential Traders and TT & Co. stores, save for the Gaisano Mall, were not substantially affected.
The trade department also reminded of the freeze on commodity prices now in effect, warning retailers that prices should not move in the next 60 days.
Lopez said A Diskwento Caravan (Discount Caravan) will be rolled out today in the affected area to sell basic goods and prime commodities at a fraction of the standard cost. Discount rates range from 10 percent to 70 percent lower than the suggested retail price.
The Diskwento Caravan project has been done in partnership with big manufacturer and/or distributors since 2009, for necessities to be made more accessible to lower-income segments.
With Catherine N. Pillas