- Posted August 12, 2012 by
San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines
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Life in the Evacuation Centers
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
Strong monsoon rains battered Luzon and Metro Manila last Monday and Tuesday. Some areas in Luzon and Metro Manila are still flooded up to this very day. Today is August 12, 2012 here in the Philippines. There are still around 300,000 people who are still being temporarily-sheltered in various “evacuation centers” all over Luzon and Metro Manila. Some of the evacuees have lost their homes from the huge floods. Most of the “evacuation sites” are public schools and government-owned sports centers. The evacuees there are living in over-crowded rooms and have to wait for a long while before they can use a comfort room. There are few beds and mattresses in such “evacuation sites”, and most of the evacuees have to sleep while sitting on chairs. The other evacuees have to use the ‘desks’ in a class-room as beds when they sleep during night-time.
I went to some of the evacuation sites in Laguna some 12 hours ago to help in distributing relief-goods for the flood-victims. We went to a “small chapel” that has been temporarily turned into an ‘evacuation center’ because some public schools in the province are already full of evacuees and students there are expected to resume their classes by tomorrow. Many of the evacuees are longing to return back to their homes, but can’t do so because floods have not yet subsided in their localities. It’s really hard to live in an “evacuation area” since there is almost zero- privacy for an individual who is being temporarily-sheltered there. People living in an evacuation area are prone to diseases since their rooms are over-crowded and they can easily spread diseases to their fellow-evacuees. Some of the evacuees have lost their homes and are wondering how they can be re-located to other areas where floods won’t bother them.
The images in this report were taken from the neighboring towns of San Pedro and Binan in Laguna Province. I hope the government in my country can devise effective measures that will lessen the number of people who are residing in low-lying areas near any body of water. All of the evacuees in this report are residents of low-lying areas near a river, lake and creek. In fact, all of the evacuees who are being temporarily-sheltered right now all over Luzon and Metro Manila are residents of low-lying areas near a body of water or from a coastal town. The evacuees are from all walks of life- working class, entrepreneurs, and the middle class.
It’s a wonder how some realty-developers in the Philippines were able to construct subdivisions just beside a river, lake, and big creek. Many middle-class families purchased elegant houses in such subdivisions. But now such families want to re-locate to ‘higher-ground areas’ because many of them have become evacuees themselves due to the huge floods last Monday and Tuesday. It would be hard for them to re-sell their homes because such houses are situated in flood-prone areas. Also, many poor families have chosen to live near a river, lake and sea because they can fish for food there and make a living in the said areas. But such areas are really flood-prone, and the government must really require people to reside in higher areas so that the number of evacuees during a huge flooding can be lessened. I think coastal areas should only become fishing grounds or resorts, not residential areas. The number of people being allowed to reside near a river, lake or creek should be limited to a certain point, so that the victims of flooding will not becomes so numerous in the distant future. The same should happen to coastal villages. The construction of elegant houses near any body of water should be banned by government authorities.
I hope the United Nations and other international agencies can hold a global conference about the prospect of limiting the number of people who would be allowed to reside in low-lying areas near a catch-basin, lake, river, creek, dam, and any body of water. The same should happen to coastal areas that are prone to tsunami and flooding. Urban planners from all over the world should also hold an international conference on how to ensure the safety of towns villages, and cities during storms and strong monsoon rains.