Tzu Chi volunteers visited the municipality of Baggao in Cagayan on September 22 to assess the situation of Typhoon Ompong’s (Mangkhut) survivors.
Although struggling, typhoon survivors in Baggao strive to help themselves recover from the tragedy.
Maricel Magudayao, 39, could only cry, remembering the tragedy that her family had just survived.
Standing on a hill at Barangay Grande in Baggao, Cagayan Province, the Magudayao residence was not spared by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut)’s strong winds. The gust tore away parts of their roof and shook the very foundation of their house, forcing the families to flee towards a safer place.
When the typhoon passed, Maricel came home to a house she could barely recognize.
“I was able to put up this house using my savings from working abroad,” Maricel shared, wiping her tear-stained face. She worked as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia for over two years in order to build a sturdy home for her children. However, when the disaster struck, she was back in square one.
The municipality of Baggao was where Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) made landfall on September 15.
According to data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), more than 345,000 families or over 1,400,000 individuals from seven regions in the Luzon island were affected by the storm. The calamity also recorded 23 fatalities.
Since the storm’s immediate aftermath, the local government of Baggao have been on the ground providing evacuees and affected families with basic needs. When the worst had passed, they began assessing the situation of the families through house to house visits.
As of September 20, Baggao reported 1,882 cases of totally damaged houses and 11,728 partially damaged.
“What these people need the most right now are construction materials such as galvanized iron sheets, and lumbers,” said Baggao Municipal Social Welfare Development Office (MSWDO) head Lourdes Lazaro.
However, relief goods and food packs are what the typhoon survivors mostly receive from civic organizations and individual donors. Hence, days after the storm ravaged the region, residents find ways to help themselves and recover amid the despair.
Maricel and her husband decided to replace an entire concrete wall, which was caving in as a result of the typhoon’s wrath, with lumber.
“We were afraid that the wall would collapse on us and our children so we decided to take it down and replace it with sourced wood,” explained Maricel.
Teofilo Pataray, 51, meanwhile collected used nails from wood that he had scavenged from the wreckage of his house.
“This way, we won’t have to buy nails when we start repairing our house,” shared Teofilo, a farmer. He is among the typhoon survivors Tzu Chi volunteers met during the latter’s visit to Baggao’s worst-affected areas on September 22. Said volunteers, who came all the way from Manila, was joined by local Chinese businessmen in doing their rounds to identify the needs of the affected families.
Volunteer Chen Chiao Yang noted that Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) is almost as destructive as Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which struck the Eastern Visayas region. He added that the people of Cagayan were lucky to be surrounded by mountain ranges that became their defense wall from a catastrophic impact.
Still, seeing the situation of the victims was heartbreaking. “I really hope we can extend help to them,” said Chen.
Tzu Chi volunteers will continue to survey the typhoon’s hardest-hit areas in the next two days and will come up with a relief plan.