BAGUIO CITY – The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) in Abra said it has closed most evacuation centers as people started returning to their homes and businesses went back to their normal operations more than a week after a strong quake jolted the province.
Arnel Valdez, PDRRM officer, said in a press conference on Sunday, “residents went back to their houses after they were told of the safety of their structures.”
From 23 evacuation areas that opened following the magnitude 7 earthquake last July 27, only eight are left operating as people have started to leave after their residences were checked and declared safe.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in its Aug. 7 report, said only 211 families or 711 individuals remain in evacuation areas.
However, there are 15,190 families who opted to seek temporary shelter with their relatives.
The provincial and municipal engineering offices of the different local government units checked the structural integrity of residences.
The DSWD reported, however, that 498 houses in the province have been declared as totally damaged while there are 26,350 with partial damage.
In the capital town of Bangued, the engineering office reported 22 non-functional structures and 88 restricted buildings.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) helped check government-owned structures, which allowed the fast conduct of assessment.
The Department of Trade and Industry-Abra provincial office said 95 percent of the business establishments have resumed operation.
Meanwhile, more than PHP106 million in different forms of aid has been extended by the DSWD to the earthquake victims -- PHP26.9 million as assistance to individuals in crisis, PHP55.77 million in family food packs, and PHP23.89 worth of non-food items.
Life goes on
Genevie Moldez, whose family house in Barangay Ubbog, Bangued, was among those totally damaged by the quake, said: “nakakalungkot kasi pinag-ipunan itong bahay at sasakyan na naipundar galing sa maliit negosyo pero nawala lang ng minsanan (it’s sad because we saved up for this house and vehicle from the income of the small business but it was gone in a split second).
She said they were fortunate and thankful, however, that none of their family members or workers were injured in the earthquake.
“Our house was not damaged by a flood but it was crushed by an earthquake,” she said.
Moldez’s family has started removing the contents of their house and everything they can salvage.
“Trabaho lang, tuloy ang buhay at mag-iipon ulit para makapagpatayo ng bagong bahay (We will just work and life will go on while we continue to save money to build a new house),” she said, smiling in spite of the tragedy.
Business as usual
On Monday morning, employees of the provincial government held their flag-raising ceremony in front of the capitol building and resumed normal operations to attend to the residents' various needs and transactions. (PNA)