Rotary Aids La Castellana Evacuees

Over a thousand remaining evacuees in two sites in La Castellana town in Negros Occidental received assistance from civic organizations led by the Rotary Club of Bacolod Central, along with the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) and the Negros Economic Development Foundation (NEDF).

Rotary District 3850 Governor Mate Espina led the team that distributed food, clothing, linens, and hygiene kits to evacuees in St. Vincent’s High School and La Castellana Senior High School.

La Castellana Mayor Rhummyla Nicor-Mangilimutan, along with Councilor Kent Magnabe, thanked the groups and said that while many evacuees have returned home, they continue to serve around 2,900 individuals remaining in five evacuation sites until Phivolcs deems it safe for them to go home.

Mayor Mangilimutan stated they remain at Level 2 because the numbers in Phivolcs’ monitoring equipment have not lowered to a safe level for the evacuees to return home.

“We are thankful for the assistance from various local government units, business groups, and civic groups for the basic needs of our evacuees. Our focus now, which may amount to billions, is the recovery phase,” the mayor said.

Recovery assessment for Brgy. Sag-ang alone is already at P54 million. Last Monday, the mayor and her team met with the Office of Civil Defense to discuss replacing roofs for over 2,500 homes in Barangays Mansalanao and Cabagna-an that were damaged due to ash fall.

John De Asis, the town’s disaster officer, reported that as of Sunday, “sulfur emission is still at 3,900, more than ten times the normal level of 300, which is why operations continue 24/7 with the mayor hardly going home to stay on top of the situation.”

“There is no determination yet on ash deposits, which can cause lahar again, so we are on standby,” he added. The mayor is hopeful that by the coming weekend, they will receive good news so people remaining in the evacuation sites can start their recovery process.

Mayor Mangilimutan noted the extensive damage to crops, which will affect their major agriculture industries of banana and coffee.

Espina was impressed with how the local government managed the evacuation site, where families take turns manning the kitchen to cook their meals.

Seeing many young children affected by the disaster, Rotarians hired an ice-cream vendor to bring some joy to the kids and also handed over chocolates and candies to social workers for children’s activities.

Joining “Operation Tabang” were Rotarians Toks Lopez, Joselito Sion, Dr. Mutya Varona, Atty. Juliana Carbon (representing MBCCI), Rose Depra, Ditas and Santi Joson of NEDF, and their staff.

Espina also thanked Rotary District 3850, Nepan Sales, Merczi Pasalubong, The Woodbridge Academy, and Assistant Governor Aaron Frank of D6250, Wisconsin, USA, for their help in this mission. (Photos by Toks Lopez)