‘Rolly’ survivor recalls typhoon’s wrath in Catanduanes town: ‘we survived’

Published November 8, 2020, 5:58 PM

by Gabriela Baron

A week after super Typhoon Rolly (International name: Goni) — the strongest storm in the world this year — hit Catanduanes, a survivor recalls the typhoon’s wrath that rendered thousands homeless. 

Calatagan Church (Photo from Rochelle Molina)

“Habang nananalasa ang bagyong Rolly, paulit-ulit akong nagdasal na sana tumigil na. Sabi ko, ‘Tama na po, Lord.’ Paulit-ulit lang (As Typhoon Rolly pummeled the province, I repeatedly prayed for it to stop. I prayed to the Lord repeatedly to stop the strong wind and the rain),” Rochelle Molina, a 23-year old resident of Virac, Catanduanes, told MB Online.

“Habang nananalasa ang bagyo, natatakot ako para sa buong pamilya ko. Para sa aming kinabukasan lalo na’t may climate change. Nakadama ako ng galit sa karanasan namin. Kung bakit kailangang sunod-sunod pa ang bagyo. COVID na nga tapos may Quinta at Rolly pa (As the storm raged, I was afraid for my whole family. For our future especially with climate change. I was angry that we had to go through this. Why it had to happen again, one storm after another. And there is still the coronavirus to worry about),” Molina added.

The strong winds that came by 5 a.m. of November 1 shattered their glass windows and almost ripped their roof off. Luckily, it did not.  

Prior to the onslaught of the typhoon, Molina said their household already stacked canned goods while she hid her printer in safety.     

The family is still reeling from the damage to their house caused by typhoon ‘Quinta’ which came before typhoon ‘Rolly.’   

Nearby Catanduanes State University was also damaged by ‘Rolly’, according to Molina.

Catanduanes State University (Photo from Rochelle Molina)

The maximum sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 310 kilometers per hour also toppled cell sites, ripped-off roofs and damaged public markets. Even the oldest church in Catanduanes — Bato Church — suffered major damage.

The inhabitants of Catanduanes are mostly Catholics. 

Beside Gogon Church (Photo from Rochelle Molina)

Typhoon Rolly was a super Typhoon when it made landfall in Catanduanes.

When the sky cleared, Molina was relieved and grateful they came out of it alive.

“I saw my family alive. I saw myself whole. The typhoon has just stopped. We survived,” Molina said.

“Pagkatapos ng bagyo, nagsilabasan na kami. Nagtingin-tingin kami sa mga sira sa mga kapitbahay. Nagsimula na rin kami magwalis ng mga dahon at mga kalat sa terrace. Masasabing in denial pa ako sa dami ng pinsala ng bagyo kahit pa man nakikita ko na ang mga yero sa paligid at mga natumbang puno (After the storm, we immediately went out of the house to check the damage in our surroundings. We started sweeping leaves and all the clutter. I cannot believe the extent of the damage caused by the typhoon. Galvanized roofs and uprooted trees were everywhere),” Molina shared. 

Some of their neighbors were either roofless or homeless.

Roads were impassable for a few days due to fallen electrical posts and debris from houses. 

Limited water supply, no electricity

Molina said they had to manage the use of water and food consumption as there is still no water supply in their barangay.  Long queues are seen almost anywhere.

Beside Virac Public Market (Photo from Rochelle Molina)

“Kailangan lang talagang magtipid sa pagkain, magtipid sa tubig pambanyo, at sa tubig pang-inom. Kailangan din pumila sa lahat lalo na sa ATM (We really need to save on food, limit the use of water for bathing and drinking. Everyone has to line up for everything they need especially at the ATM),” she added.

“Sa ngayon may mga bahagi na ng Virac Town Proper ang mayroon nang tubig mula sa gripo. Sa kuryente naman, may mga pangako na isaayos ito sa lalong madaling panahon. Subalit sa aming barangay, wala pa rin tubig o kuryente (Now, some parts of Virac Town Proper already have water in their pipes. They promise to restore power soon.  But in our barangay, there is still no water or electricity).”

Roof materials, face masks most needed

Residents are seeking donation for roofing materials, tents, water, food such as canned goods and bread, candles, clothes, mat, blankets, mosquito nets, and face masks.

“Isang linggo pagkatapos manalasa ni Rolly sa Virac, masasabi kong marami pang kailangang gawin. Halimbawa hindi pa naabot ng relief goods and lahat ng mga nangangailangang barangay (A week after Rolly hit Virac, there are still lots of things that need to be done. Relief goods have not reached all affected barangays),” Molina said.

It takes time for relief goods to reach Catanduanes, Molina explained since supply trucks have to board a ship or go through Albay and Camarines Sur, which were likewise heavily damaged by the typhoon.

“May pangangailangan pa rin na masigurong hindi lalala ang COVID sa probinsya, [kaya kailangan din] ng tubig panligo at panlaba, at face mask (We need to ensure that the coronavirus does not worsen in our province, so there is also a need for water supply for bathing and laundry, and also face masks).”

The death toll of Typhoon Rolly has risen to 22 as of Friday (Nov 6).  Damage to  agriculture and infrastructure is estimated to hit over P14 billion.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the typhoon has affected over 410,000 families.

 
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