MANILA — A month after Typhoon Odette struck, Bohol remains in dire need of assistance even as COVID-19 cases surge in the province, its governor said Friday.
Bohol Governor Arthur Yap said around 280,000 people’s homes were damaged during the typhoon and they “only survive with tarps, sunshades and recycled materials”.
It is estimated that rebuilding houses will cost between 4 and 8 billion pesos.
“With COVID-19 we are still in this pandemic and it is raining and cold at this time of year. We’re very aware at this point that we don’t want to add another layer of problems,” he told ANC’s Headstart.
Active COVID-19 cases in Bohol have risen to 616 from 12 on Dec. 16, Yap said.
He noted that Bohol’s budget this year “isn’t going to get us very far” as the province also needs to rebuild evacuation centers and other damaged infrastructure.
“One realization is that we really need to build resilience centers, hindi yung gym na inayos lang para magmukhang evacuation centers. We’re looking for independent standalone resilience centers,” he said.
“Every year we get 22 to 27 tropical cyclones. Every 2 years we get a big howler, a big typhoon. The total damage averages 400 billion pesetas. We really need to make a decision to keep people out of harm’s way and build smarter and have more engineering styles to suit our construction (or) this sad tale is repeated every year.
The province must also have “independent communication platforms,” the governor added.
“One of the things we wanted to do is put satellite phones in every barangay,” he said.
The province’s power supply is not yet fully restored as 11,000 power poles were destroyed by the typhoon, the governor said.
“Until all 11,000 posts are repaired, being able to link to Leyte is useless. If power is not fully restored, even our ability to produce water will be affected,” he said.
Panglao Island, meanwhile, has continued to receive tourists as it “wasn’t hit hard,” Yap said.
The province accepts tourists who are fully vaccinated, and if they haven’t had any vaccination yet, they must provide a confirmatory swab or RT-PCR test,” he added.
“The first message we need to get out is that we are open for business,” he said.
“Our resorts themselves need to be used … not only for tourism, but also for lifeboats in emergencies. If they can have their own tower and communications and water source, resorts become provincial resilience centers.”
Individuals who wish to donate to the province’s rehabilitation can do so with international organizations such as the United Nations agencies, Yap said.
“Whatever funds we get, we’re focusing on food, water and generators to get the basics going,” he said.
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