Storm surge ‘like a tsunami’ washes out park, seawall, houses

Posted on December 6, 2012

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A 56-YEAR-OLD widow sobbed when she returned to her house by the sea in Boljoon town and found nothing.

Not a single post or piece of clothing was left after typhoon Pablo struck Tuesday afternoon.

The four-bedroom house was among at least five coastal houses washed out by waves so big that residents described the alarming sight as a “tsunami” even though the storm just glanced Cebu City, 107 kilometers away.

“Kumpyansa lang jud ko kay akong bana dili jud to mubalhin bisag katopang Ruping,” said Florencia Entia, mother of seven.

(I never expected this to happen. My late husband never moved out of the house during a storm even during Ruping , the 1990 supertyphoon.)

Mayors of Boljoon, Oslob and Santander yesterday moved to declare their towns under a state of calamity to access disaster funds as government workers started distributing relief goods.

When Cebu Daily News visited the far-flung towns, similar scenes of storm damage confirmed that Pablo had surprised coastal residents and left several roads, seawalls and houses in a state of major disrepair.

The biggest damage was noted in Boljoon, a tourist destination and heritage site as the host of Cebu’s oldest stone Spanish-era church.

Seawater entered the Boljoon municipal hall, damaging office interiors and computers.

The most visible damage was in the town’s picturesque baywalk, a Wi-Fi ready area with a coffee bar and lampposts. The seawall of the Boljoon park was wrecked.

Concrete benches that used to line a brick path baywalk were tossed meters away. The tennis court beside the municipal hall was muddy and covered with rocks.

“Mura naman tu ug tsunami. Dagko kaayo ang bawod, dako pa sa akong balay” said 64-year-old Daniel Medez, who was sweeping the floor of a chapel filled with sand and stones when CDN caught up with him. (It looked like a tsunami. The waves were bigger than my house.)

Medez said residents near the San Pedro, San Pablo chapel facing the sea fled in fear to the town’s church for safety. His own house was damaged.

A section of the coast, where houses used to be, was covered with beach sand and coral rocks like a brand new landscape.

Some residents said the eerie sight looked as if the sea had reclaimed the private property.

The storm surge happened about 7:30 p.m. and lasted at least 30 minutes, with smaller waves still crashing against the Boljoon municipal hall until 10:30 p.m., said Boljoon municipal planning officer Corazon Medida.

In sitio Talisay, barangay Poblacion, at least 17 houses of light materials, with some concrete structures, were destroyed, she said. Most of the occupants failed to save any of their belongings.

About 300 to 400 persons took shelter in the church, a private school and covered court.

DPWH assistance is needed, she said, because waves eroded the national highway, leaving a big hole on the road.

Boljoon Vice Mayor Merlo Derama told CDN that they were busy distributing relief goods to about 250 families. He said the towns have asked for heavy equipment and help from DPWH to clear the roads.

Derama said the town would declare Boljoon under calamity. At least five houses were washed.

Widow Florencia Entia was still crying hard when she explained to CDN how much she had lost.

Only the concrete base was left of the house that she and her late husband Dodo Fredo worked for. Earlier at 3 a.m. yesterday, Entia went back to the house , unable to sleep in the evacuation center inside the Boljoon church. She borrowed a neighbor’s flashlight to check her home by the shore of sitio Talisay.

With her house gone and the sari-sari store, her family’s source of livelihood, she said she is counting on the Boljoon officials for assistance.

Entia roamed the area looking for her things. Her refrigerator was lying several meters away. The chamber pot (“orinola”) where she kept her cash was on the ground, already empty.

In her 33 years of living by the shore, she said she never had to leave it even at the height of several typhoons.

Boljoon was also the town where Arlene Pila, 50, of sitio Tambokon, barangay Granada, was killed when a coconut tree fell on her as she walked to the market on Tuesday afternoon.

Pila was carrying a bag full of papayas to sell, when the tree fell on her head and crushed both of her legs, said her eldest daughter Teresita.

“Wala nako kabalo unsa akong buhaton nga wala na akong mama,” she sighed. (I don’t know what to do without my mother.)

OSLOB SEAWALL

In Oslob town, Mayor Ronald Juaren said at least 128 families were evacuated. The seawall in Mainit wharf was destroyed. Two passenger vessels were partly submerged in the sea. Two houses were washed out and one was partly damaged.

Juaren said town officials would declare a state of calamity in their next council meeting.

Santander Mayor, Marilyn Wenceslao said more than 500 houses were damaged in her town at the southernmost tip of Cebu, 134 kilometers from Cebu City.

A motorbanca operated by Frelan Irag with three passengers overturned when waves hit the boat, she said. The motorbanca left the port of Santander around 9 a.m. Tuesday against the advice of the coast guard on Tuesday.

“Nangayawat mani ang operator sa P500 per head maong nihilom ug larga,” the mayor said.

A passing fisherman saved the three passengers including a foreign national and two residents from Negros.

The foreigner was laughing after the experience and reportedly said, “It’s really more fun in the the Philippines”. After the rescue, he immediately boarded a bus, still in his wet clothes.

Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale was also in Santander town yesterday afternoon checking on the extent of storm damage. Magpale said she went from one town to another to see how she could help affected residents. /Jucell Marie P. Cuyos, Correspondent

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