A YEAR after Typhoon ‘Odette’ (Rai) struck Southern Leyte, residents in the province are still reeling from the trauma and pain due to the storm’s catastrophic impact.
“We are slowly recovering,” said Gabriel Villasotes, a storm survivor in Anahawan town.
Like other residents in the province, Villasotes recalled his experiences during the typhoon by posting images of the destruction on social media.

In Maasin City, the province’s capital, Mayor Nacional Mercado said that “a year after, (we are) not yet fully recovered but getting back on track.”

“The people of Maasin City won’t forget that fateful day when Odette hit our city.It was indeed one of the strongest and most destructive typhoons ever on record, but we could enough thank our partners from the different private and government sectors who extended assistance and support to us,” Mercado said.

According to the mayor, Maasin City “is now at 80 percent in terms of rehabilitation.”
“Significantly, we have prioritized the rehabilitation of our city hall, relocation sites, the Maasin City gymnasium and other multipurpose gyms of our barangays as these are important in the delivery of basic services to our constituents,” he said.

“The remaining 20 percent are mostly on road infrastructures, barangay halls, and others. As to agriculture, we’re at 70 percent in terms of rehabilitation and our people have somehow slowly rebuilt their homes,” Mercado said in an interview with Leyte Samar Daily Express.

For the entire Southern Leyte province, Odette destroyed a total of 94,173 houses and P1.5 billion worth of damage to agriculture.

“As we revisit the sorrow of our losses as a result of the typhoon, we must also remember that despite the immense devastation it caused, we have come together and have been rebuilding our communities and our livelihoods ever since,” said Rep. Christopherson “Coco” Yap of the second district of Southern Leyte.

“In honor of your courage and resilience, I stand with you in solidarity in order to support and uplift your voices,” Yap said as he enjoined the local residents in commemorating the first anniversary of Odette onslaught after it hit the province on December 16, 2021.

However, the lawmaker assured that he “will remain committed to assisting the province of Southern Leyte in its efforts to rebuild and recover and to ensuring that everyone receives the support and assistance they deserve.”

“While we are no longer in the same state as we were in the first few months after the storm, full recovery is still out of sight. Public facilities such as schools, multi-purpose buildings, and evacuation centers still need repairs; peoples’ houses remain in ruins, our farmers’ crops are still unproductive, and our fisherfolks are still left with no boats,” said Yap.

“We still need assistance from the government and our partners in the private sector and the international community,” he added.

Like other local officials in the province, Yap disclosed that they had prepared before the onslaught of Odette.

“But we did not expect that our residents will suffer so badly. The debris left behind by Odette can no longer be seen, but our people are still suffering from this typhoon,” he said.
Call for help continues.

Meanwhile, Yap called on the residents to help in spreading the word about the “immense suffering and loss” Super Typhoon Odette brought upon the people of Southern Leyte.

“You can do this on social media by using the hashtag #SouthernLeyteSTILLNeedsHelp. I hope this will get the government and the rest of the world to realize that our people still need help and support, and that our disaster-prone province needs to be rebuilt and made stronger against future climate-related disasters,” Yap said.

“Let us continue to stand with Southern Leyte as it moves forward on its road to recovery,” he added.(RONALD O. REYES)