by Isabela Page
Three years after, it seems like there’s no more trace of the grim devastation brought by Tropical Storm Sendong in areas mostly affected- in the aspect of infrastructure and property condition. Most of the houses are renovated or reconstructed, other than those who can’t be salvaged anymore that they are left by owners to rot or unoccupied and chose to abandon. Many chose to return to the devastation, afterall- it’s the only house they consider as home.
The river bank transversed by the Cagayan de Oro River is undergoing river control project initiated by DPWH, more and more tree planting activities are being undertaken by various organizations, river and coastal barangays are implementing initiatives to be more prepared in the effects of storm or typhoon as devastating as Sendong. When Pablo hit in 2012, the residents were more than prepared but property devastation were still recorded.
But how are survivors doing 3 years after? Most of them are now housed in permanent housing provided by the City Government and private organizations situated in various relocation sites. They have slowly rebuild their lives with the constant aid from NGOs- who have taken the responsibilities to assist the survivors in getting into livelihood projects, decent jobs, medical outreach programs and so much more. They have actually created entirely new communities within an existing community, and have shifted their lifestyle in tune to where they are now residing or working.
But the painful truth remains- hundreds of surviving families are still at loss at whatever happened to their family members who until now remain missing. Closure is still the greatest emotional challenge that they have to deal every day, especially by orphans who still could not comprehend the absence of their parents they lost in the middle of the night. Parents who lost kids or sick elderly equally suffer the guilt of not being able to save their family members.
At the JCI Bai Lawanen Memorial Wall in Gaston Park, family members visit the tribute wall to pay respects especially to those who remain missing. The tribute wall will be a constant reminder of the lessons learned from the destruction caused by any tropical storm, the lives lost, dreams crushed, lives interrupted and future uncertain. But it will also remind us that we should continue to take care of our environment and resources. And we should all heal spiritually- and indeed, there is no sorrow on earth that heaven cannot heal.