Tzu Chi members braved the ash fall and cracked roads of Batangas province on January 17, 2020 to survey the aftermath of Taal Volcano eruption.
The survey team was divided into 4 groups that covered the different evacuation centers of Calaca, Balayan, Lian, Tuy, Nasugbu, and Calatagan. Most of the evacuation centers were set up in schools except for Calatagan, which has its evacuation center at the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex.
According to NDRRMC’s report, as of January 18, 2020, there are more than 16,000 families or more than 70,000 individuals in 300 evacuation centers including those in 140 schools across Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna.
Kindhearted Samaritans from Manila and nearby areas are extremely generous in sending relief goods to many of the evacuation centers since it is easily accessible from the National Capital Region (NCR). Consequently, traffic going towards south was packed with trucks and private cars transporting food, water, and old clothes to these evacuation centers.
Mayor Emmanuel Salvador Fronda II of Balayan town proper was very thankful for the outpour of relief goods. However, he emphasized that his constituents also need personal hygiene products like soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, toilet papers, diapers and even under-wears. His other concern is that since the evacuation centers were not built to accommodate so many people at one time, therefore, the toilets are not enough for the evacuees.
Our volunteers, however, noticed that some evacuation centers are provided with portable toilets by government units while others are still waiting for these portalets.
The classrooms in schools were assigned to families in need of a temporary shelter. A group of Taho (Bean curd) vendors and their families stay in one room. They worry about not being able to earn a living for their everyday needs and the uncertainty of when they can go home.
Tzu Chi Deputy CEO Alfredo Li who leads the survey team observed that this calamity is different from the aftermath of typhoons. Victims of a typhoon would usually go back home within one or two days after the typhoon, but for this disaster, there is no way of telling when they can go home or when will Taal volcano erupt again.
The survey team will evaluate their findings and will soon prepare the necessary relief goods for the Taal evacuees. The initial suggestion is to deliver relief goods to evacuation centers that need the help most.