Eastern Samar faces ‘nightmare’ as it battles against virus, typhoon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 14) - Things are complicated right now in the province of Eastern Samar as it deals with the coronavirus pandemic and Typhoon Ambo, Governor Ben Evardone says.

Ambo (international name: Vongfong), the first typhoon to hit the country this year, continues to pummel the Samar province with violent winds and heavy to intense rainfall.

Evardone said that the provincial government is having a hard time finding suitable places for evacuees as centers have been turned into quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients.

“It's a complicated situation right now in the province. We prepared our evacuation centers for COVID-19, but we have to deal with the evacuees of Typhoon Ambo. This is a nightmare for us here,” he told CNN Philippines in an interview.

Eastern Samar remains under modified enhanced community quarantine as a low-risk area for COVID-19 infections.

“Sa ngayon, urgent yung hagupit ng bagyo. Pero siyempre hindi naman ibababa yung aming pagbabantay sa COVD-19 na ito, kasi mas malaki ang peligro nito at long-term,” added Evardone.

[Translation: Right now, the case with the typhoon is urgent. But we will not scale down our COVID-19 monitoring, because this will cause more danger and it’s for the long term.]

Aside from finding a place, social distancing in evacuation centers seemed to be a challenge as well.

“Problema namin ay saan namin isiksik yung aming kababayan at paano namin ipa-practice yung social distancing dun sa mga evacuation centers. So double time talaga kami dito.”

[Translation: Our problem right now is how we are going to place our people inside and how we are going to practice social distancing inside the evacuation centers. So we are doubling our time working on this.]

Adding to the nightmare, the governor said, communication facilities in local government units are disrupted due to power interruption in the province.

“Some municipalities have no communication facilities right now. So we have a big problem here,” said Evardone.

Hitting them with another crisis, Evardone admitted the province is running low on resources.

“We have been dealing with this COVID crisis in the past two months, and most of the resources of the LGUs are depleted right now,” he said.

Despite this, the provincial government as well as frontliners have no choice but to double their efforts.

“Yung mga frontliners namin, although exhausted na sila, kailangan naming lumaban,” said Evardone.

[Translation: Our frontliners, although they are already exhausted, we need to fight this.]