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By Venus L. Garcia, ICM, PIA 13- Surigao del Norte

When catastrophe strikes, a person or a family is caught blindsided. It was a terrible Friday evening of Feb. 10 for clueless Surigaonons when their faith and forbearance were put to a serious test in the midst of a powerful 6.7-magnitude earthquake.

For Amparo Donoso, 56 years old, a resident of Purok Baybay Parola, this city, living in a shanty and rearing four youngsters, she was able to withstand the fright as she briskly brought her family to a safer ground.

“I am mindful of how the hazardous earthquake and aftershocks might cost our lives. My instinct and adequate knowledge and awareness dictated that I prioritize the safety of my family,” said Donoso despite knowing about the advisory of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center that there’s no tsunami threat in effect.

Seen at the Capitol grounds, where a multitude of common people sought refuge, were lactating mothers carrying innocent babies in their arms, elderlies, persons with disabilities, people helping other people.

The total power blackout did not hamper them from finding reasons to grin as they stayed safe under some makeshift shelters pitched by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Surigao City-Surigao del Norte chapter personnel.

“We see to it that the quake victims be given assistance. Large tents are provided to them appropriately protect them from getting wet from rains than leaving them helpless. Medical and first aid services are available for them. In addition to that, those who are still under the state of trauma were given psychosocial support services or stress debriefing,” said John Rafael Daño of PRC Surigao del Norte.

Romel Empalnado and his wife, together with their eight months, three and five years old children, who all came from Nueva Extension, Barangay Taft, flocked to the evacuation area to secure themselves after series of aftershocks continued to disturb them. “I am more concerned for the welfare of our baby and kids. I can afford to lose my house but not my loved ones,” said Empalnado in a voice quavered with emotion.

Meanwhile, no one would ever expect to witness this scene at the CARAGA Regional Hospital (CRH).  Patients being attended to in the hospital or folding beds under portable tents. Despite the structural damages where the beams collapsed at the medical ward, the management was able to give assistance to a large volume of patients who suffered from a panic attack, lacerations, and fractures.

“In support of the patients, the city government of Surigao and the Department of Health (DOH) were able to furnish additional tents, folding beds, assorted medicines and jerry cans to the hospital for the use of the victims who are staying in the hospital.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has also operated a rationing of water and more assistance are expected from the Chinese Chamber,” declared Delfin Antallan, officer-in-charge, administrative department of CRH.

On fatalities due to the earthquake, the bereaved family of Lito Wilson, 35 years old and a resident of Brgy. Nonoc received an initial monetary assistance of P20,000 from the national government and P5,000 from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Caraga. They are also entitled to claim for an additional burial assistance from the DSWD upon complying the requirements.

Some members of the community opened eateries and barbecue stalls utilizing generator sets to illuminate the dimness and gloomy atmosphere as they serve the customers in need of food.

Resilience made the people easily adapt to adversity. They have their own ways of defining and showing resilience.

“Resilience is not only capacitating the people with disaster preparedness capabilities or decreasing their vulnerabilities to the effects of disasters but resilience has been found to be associated with social support to the variety of population. It can be a social support assistance, tangible and intangible, or shielding people from the adverse effect of calamities,” underscored Rosauro Arnel Gonzales, Jr., Office of Civil Defense CARAGA regional director.

To give more relief to the victims, apart from the humanitarian aid afforded by the Rotary Club and other non-government organizations, the C130 has arrived on Monday at the Bancasi Airport, this city, loaded with 137 boxes of assorted medicines, 500 hygiene kits, 75 tents, 500 jerry cans and two drums of chlorine. These are all part of the promised support from the national government through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), DSWD, DOH, and PRC.

With the suspension of business operation of the major mall and other supermarkets in the locality, Surigaonons who are badly affected by the quake plead for more food and non-food items, including financial assistance adequate to repair their destroyed houses. (PIA CARAGA)