When the storm struck, Rentillo said the streets became a deadly obstacle course of toppling electricity poles and trees and flying debris. As he drove by a fallen pole, a power line whipped by the wind struck him on the face and caused his bike to flip.
Fortunately, the incident happened before all telecommunications signals went dead and he was able to alert his colleagues to come to his aid.
News: ‘Reeling from Yolanda, Panay’s community journalists soldier on’
9 December 2013
During the onslaught of typhoon Frank some five years earlier, much of Aklan province flooded, wrecking extensive damage upon riverside areas.
As a result, many in Alan were especially prepared in the lead-up to Super Typhoon Yolanda. “Especially those in flood-prone areas,” Galo I. Ibardolaza explains, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM) Executive Officer of Aklan Province.
Before Yolanda reached their town, Mabel Marcelino and her co-vendors in the Altavas public market had struggled in the hot and cramped conditions, where she had worked for almost five years.
“(Yolanda) was very strong,” Mabel explains. “It damaged the roof of the market and as a result, goods were damaged. It was especially challenging for us to work after Yolanda because every time it rained,
everything would get soaked,” she added.
Mayor Erlinda M. Maming searched for words to describe the harrowing sounds of Super Typhoon Yolanda as it neared the town of Banga, Aklan. “At my age, it was my first time to hear a crying wind,” she explained. “It was like the sound of a crying cat, only much louder.”
As Yolanda made landfall, Mayor Erlinda witnessed how the roofing of Banga civic center was blown away, piece by piece. The center, constructed largely of light materials, could not withstand the sheer force of the super typhoon. “It was unbelievable,” she said.
Batan public market vendor Ariel Dormido remembers how even before Yolanda’s arrival, the roof of the market had been in need of repair. “Our market can accommodate us,” he explains, “but our major problem is the roofing. It was rusty with many holes in it: a problem for us during rainy season.” Then Super Typhoon Yolanda arrived.
Long before Yolanda neared, evacuation centers had already been properly identified. Regular DRRM trainings with local communities had already taken place. Requisite equipment had been purchased, and coordination measures among local officials and the community had long since been established.
Five days before Yolanda was due to make landfall nearby, they mobilized and prepared.
As the typhoon neared, four evacuation centers were quickly identified. Officials roamed the streets, equipped with sirens informing citizens to evacuate to nearby centers. Police and rescuers were immediately mobilized to those in need: to assist with relief efforts, heavy equipment was strategically placed in the local plaza. In remote areas, barangay captains were provided with handsets to deliver vital information to central command officials.
These efforts to inform and prepared the public were especially effective, Mayor William S. Lachica explains, as many local citizens had first packed their things in plastic, before evacuating.
Long since the home of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other government agencies, the municipal building in New Washington was extensively damaged during Yolanda. “The roofing of the old municipal building was blown away, and it took months for it to be repaired,” police inspector (PSI) Al Loren P. Bigay says.
Once again operational, the building has since been made more resilient. Painted bright orange, it is also now more visible to the public. Yet for these seemingly minor physical changes are minor, when compared to the significant shifts in attitudes towards disaster prevention in the municipality.