CHITO CHAVEZ with report from BOY RYAN ZABAL
KALIBO, Aklan - A 300-man contingent of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), with heavy equipment in tow, arrived in Kalibo, Aklan to help in the rehabilitation of the towns devastated by typhoon "Frank."
The contingent, composed of the agency’s flood-control and sidewalkclearing personnel, formed part of President Arroyo’s Mercy Mission on Panay Island. It brought along 27 trucks and heavy equipment such as payloaders, drainage-clearing vehicles, cranes, generators, water tankers, manlifters, backhoes and chainsaws to facilitate the clearing of roads and drainage systems clogged with silt and debris.
Another group, composed of 99 more personnel, will be leaving Manila for Panay soon to do repair in Iloilo City, MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando said.
He said they would also be bringing construction equipment and trucks. Upon reaching Kalibo Friday morning, the contingent immediately buckled down to work, and helped local officials and the town folk hauled away thick mud, felled trees and lamp posts, broken twigs and other debris blocking the poblacion’s major and secondary roads.
They repaired damaged roads and houses, restored toppled lamp posts, bundled up dangled power lines and dredged esteros and creeks. Likewise, broken traffic signal lights, directional signs and other street facilities were either repaired or replaced.
Team leader and MMDA Flood Control chief Baltazar Melgar said the repair and clearing operations could take them at least a week. Then, he said, they would proceed to Iloilo to join their colleagues who would soon be dispatched to the province, from Manila.
The President, through a teleconference, directed the MMDA to lend its clearing and flood control expertise to the island’s provinces hardest hit by typhoon Frank during last Saturday’s emergency meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) held at the Department of National Defense.
Fernando quoted the President as saying that because Metro Manila, despite the widespread floods, was not as badly damaged by the typhoon, it would be wise to bring the agency’s manpower resources and logistics to the provinces hard hit by the typhoon.
Meanwhile, donations from Aklanons in the United States are now on the way for families whose homes and properties were destroyed by the typhoon."
Aklan Associations Eastern USA president Refol said a $10,000 check in the name of Kalibo Bishop Jose Romeo Lazo is intended for shelter, food and medicines of affected families displaced by typhoon Frank. The amount will be given by Ray Rogan to Bishop Lazo on July 4, Refol said.
Over 50 people were killed and 292,877 persons in Aklan were affected, a latest report of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) stated. (With report by Boy Ryan Zabal)