‘Mayon evacuees packed like sardines’
By Rhaydz B. Barcia LEGAZPI CITY --- Evacuees at Bagumbayan Elementary School here are packed like sardines, with 222 persons from 31 to 35 families assigned in each classroom that serves as evacuation camp following Mayon Volcano’s restive behavior. The situation alarms City Mayor Noel Rosal who feared outbreak of diseases if nothing is done to give the evacuees with more space for their temporary shelter. Merlinda Esplana, a resident of Barangay Buyuan of this city and team leader of Room 20 at Bagumbayan Elementary School said that there are 31 families or 222 persons temporarily housed in single classroom. “In our room we have 31 families or 222 individual occupants. Some of the evacuees were sleeping on the chairs as we gave preference to the elderly and children,” said Merlinda Esplana, an evacuee and team leader of Room 20 at the said elementary school. The evacuees from Barangay Buyuan in this city compose the biggest number of evacuees housed in Bagumbayan Elementary School wherein 30 classrooms were used as temporary shelters, aside from evacuation building built by the city government here The city government as early as last Sunday had enforced pre-empted evacuation of residents living within the 7-kilometer radius of Mayon Volano that include Barangays Padang, Buyuan, Mabinit, Matanag and Bonga. Barangays of Padang has the least number of evacuees with 111 families or 300 persons; Mabinit with 414 or 1,596 people. Residents at Matanag, 437 families or 2,322, and Bonga with 797 families or 3,495 persons. They are housed at Albay Central School. Legazpi City has the highest number of evacuees with 2,610 families or 11,522 persons among the other local government units. The numbers are expected to increase once Philvolcs raises the alert level of Mayon volcano to Levels 4 and 5, which means there is full-blown eruption of the volcano. Meanwhile, Mayor Rosal ordered the decongestion of evacuees in Bagumbayan Elementary School to prevent the spread of diseases. He said that the proper ratio per classroom should be 10 families. eruption. “We will ask school principals to open more classrooms to decongest the number of Mayon evacuees because we cannot sacrifice the health of the evacuees,” he said. Rosal said that the number of evacuees in Legazpi is expected to rise by 20,000 should Phivolcs raised the alert level of Mayon to level 4 as residents in 8 to 9-kilometer permanent danger zones (PDZs) will be evacuated for safety. He also told the city social welfare and city health officers to isolate evacuees with diseases specificall tuberculosis and other contagious diseases here. When asked if they have enough budget to support the ballooning number of evacuees for months, Rosal said that the city government can support the evacuees for 10 days. “We don’t have enough budget to support the almost 12,000 Mayon evacuees though we have calamity funds but this is not sufficient considering that Mayon eruption abnormalities usually take months, unlike typhoons,” he said. “We can support our evacuees for only 10 days that’s why we’re declaring Legazpi as an open city for those who want to provide aid to families affected by Mayon eruption,” he added. Currently the number of evacuees ballooned to 9,361 families or almost 40,000 individuals housed in various evacuation camps of three cities and five towns of Albay affected by Mayon volcano eruption. Already, the provincial health office (PHO) in Albay reported that there are 113 cases of illnesses affecting the evacuees, mostly children, such as cough and cold, fever and chickenpox. Public Health Chief Antonio “Tony” Ludovice of the provincial health office said they have set up health stations to attend to the needs of the evacuees in three cities and five municipalities here. Residents in the towns of Camalig in second district and Guinobatan and the City of Ligao in the third district of Albay are directly affected by the volcano’s ash fall. Reports said pyroclastic flow from the mouth of the volcano are zigzagging in 3rd and 2nd districts of Albay. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Bicol, particularly in Albay, ordered to freeze the prices of basic commodities here following the declaration of the province under a state of calamity.