Visiting Mayon Evacuees
As the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) steps up its relief operations amidst continuing threats from Mt. Mayon, PNRC chairman Richard J. Gordon visited evacuation centers on Monday to personally inspect the living conditions of thousands of Filipinos there.
“We want to ensure that all evacuees are provided with basic needs,” said Gordon, who is visiting Mt. Mayon for the third time since eruptions 1993 and 2000. During his recent visit, a total of 2,832 families (13,104 persons) have received relief goods including rice, noodles, water and canned goods. So far, the PNRC has distributed relief bags to about 10,000 families in different evacuation centers.
“The evacuation centers should be clean and well-ventilated,” Gordon continued, adding that PNRC health teams in Albay make sure that evacuation centers are well-maintained and sanitized to prevent diseases. Evacuees are taught how to properly use latrines and bathing areas, and how to cook their food in the common kitchens, if there is any.
Gordon emphasized that disaster response goes beyond mere rescue and relief. As a humanitarian organization, the PNRC seeks to cover all bases, including the mental health and well-being of displaced residents. To this end, several PNRC personnel trained to provide psychosocial support are already making the rounds in evacuation centers.
Traumatized evacuees, many of whom have been living in evacuation centers for weeks, are given stress debriefing to help them deal with anxiety. Extra care and attention are provided to women, children and the elderly, who are considered the most vulnerable in times of disaster.
Despite the recent development of allowing residents living outside the 10-km danger zone to return to their homes, life for the majority of the evacuees remains the same as alert level 4 continues to hover over Mt. Mayon.