“It was like the world had ended.”
That’s how Menche Franciso, a feeds and rice vendor from President Roxas, Capiz, describes the arrival of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
“We were told about it, but didn’t expect it to be that strong,” he says. “We experienced big losses in areas of business, livelihood, housing – almost everything.”
The local civic center had served as a preassigned evacuation center. Most of those who sought refuge there were those from hard-hit coastal areas, Joseph D. Fabian, the center’s caretaker, explains.
“I was in the civic center at that time,” he remembers. “I helped the local government and the evacuees. I witnessed how the roof was slowly ripped away… Children were crying. It was a crazy experience because the evacuees would move to a new area of the facility as each section of the roof was being destroyed above them.”
Those whose homes had been destroyed would stay in the center for more than a week afterwards, Joseph says. Others, like vendor Menche, would returning to the significantly-damaged market to clean up, and continue selling the few products that remained.
The nearby municipal hall also sustained significant damage. As Ramon G. Burgos explains, the impact of this was longer-term. “Since most of the roof and ceiling were damaged, the employees jam-packed into the sections that survived,” he says. “It was very difficult to work, with such a large number of employees in such a small area.”
Hermy E. Rolete, an area coordinator of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), explains how the civic center is vital to the department’s effective function in the municipality.
“Once the center was repaired, we could use it for a number of our activities,” he says. “As we are one of the distributing agencies for Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) funds, we conduct all our consultations and forums here. We also use this space to gather our volunteers together for documentation training,” he adds.
With a new roof and ceiling installed in the nearby municipal hall, staff can now enjoy the comfortable and presentable space, engineer Ramon says. “We even added more offices to accommodate our employees and avoid overcrowding.”
At the market, “I am satisfied with the repairs done,” Menche says. “Aside from us (the vendors), even our customers say that it’s a more comfortable space to run their market errands in. This is important, since aside from those from town proper, the market also caters to our people from the upland barangays , even other nearby municipalities.”