Typhoon Hagupit slammed into the central Philippines’ east coast this month, knocking out power and toppling trees in a region still haunted by the massive death and destruction wrought by a monster storm last year.
The city of Tacloban, which bore the brunt of last year's powerful Super Typhoon Haiyan, has emerged from the storm relatively unscathed. As Jason strother reports residents of one waterfront village have rebuilt their homes even though it’s now illegal to live there. And another deadly storm isn’t their only concern.
When Typhoon Haiyan, known here as Yolanda, hit the bayside village of Anibong, it created a title surge that seemed more like a tsunami.
27 residents died here. And the survivors lost everything.
Wana Eustrie’s home was wiped away by the floodwaters.
Now all that’s left is rubble in the spot where her home once stood.
“My family was warned before the typhoon hit that we needed to go to an evacuation center. After Yolanda, we stayed in the evacuation center for a week and then went to Cebu. When we came back, we saw that our home was destroyed.”
Like the rest of Anibong’s few hundred residents, Eustrie rebuilt her makeshift home in what’s now become a government designated no-dwelling zone.
It’s located within 40-meters from the waterfront.
She says she knows its illegal to live here but she had no other choice....
“We rebuilt our home here, because we don’t know where else to go. We want to still live here. It’s because it’s so close to where we work. My husband and I rely on his work here. If we relocated to another area there is no guarantee that we’ll find work there.”
Some locals say the government is to blame for this situation.
Chat Bactol is the Anibong village leader. She says the officials haven’t come through with their pledge to build more houses on higher ground.
“It’s dangerous! It’s too near the sea. We don’t want another Yolanda. We need to be relocated. Since the government hasn’t built houses for all of us, of course we’re not priority.”
Complicating Anibong’s predicament are 3 giant cargo ships that have been washed up on land ever since November’s typhoon
“What I want is to get these ships as soon as possible. Or cut them off into pieces.”
A moving crew has been called in to get one of the boats, the freighter the Eva Jocelyn, back to where it belongs.
But the team’s captain Ronnie Arevalo says his men can’t get the job done at the moment.
“We’ve been doing the best we can to get the work done as soon as possible but we have to hold off temporarily. There’s a dispute between the owner and the captain of this boat that’s forced us to stop our work.”
Arevalo explains the plan is to put the ship on top of rollers and use a push and pull system to move the Eva Jocelyn back into the water.
But to do that, some of the homes that have been rebuilt since the typhoon will have to come down again.
“Seven or six homes might be effected if the boat is brought back to the sea. Being a contractor for many years, I can assure the people this will be safe. We have already studied everything on how this boat will be brought back to the sea. I have held meetings with my boss and superiors on making this safe as possible.”
Anibong village leader, Chat Bactol says that if the boat ever does make it back into the sea, she’s at least won some compensation from the ship’s owner for residents that will be displaced.
“They will pay for the labor of the rebuilding of their houses.”
One of those residents who will have to start all over again if the boat is moved is Wana Eustrie.
Her new home is right in between the Eva Jocelyn and the bay.
“We’re confused about what to do because the boat needs to be returned back to the sea. We ‘ve already had to rebuild once. We can’t deny that we are all suffering difficulties now, my family my neighbors. But we are moving on, we are just happy to be alive. I think our biggest concern is being kicked out of here by the government.”
All Eustrie and other villagers can do now is hope their homes aren’t taken away by the government, another typhoon or a giant boat.
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