LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 11 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol will be the lead agency in conducting relief operations in eastern and western Samar, among the worst-hit provinces in Central Visayas by super typhoon "Yolanda" on Friday, a DSWD regional official said Monday.
Arnel Garcia, DSWD regional director, said he had received a verbal directive from DSWD Corazon J. Soliman to assist the agency in Region 8 in their relief efforts.
Garcia said the DSWD office in the Eastern Visayas can not fully operate since its personnel are also disaster victims.
He said he had commissioned the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol and Albay provincial government to assist his office in producing millions of emergency food packs to be distributed to affected villagers in western and eastern Samar.
The relief task force intends to produce an initial of three million food packs for distribution to some 300,000 people in affected towns of Samar, he said.
It will conduct a needs assessment Monday to determine the number of emergency food packs to be prepared, Garcia said.
He said DSWD has already spent P51.4 million to procure and repack 200,000 emergency food packs or an equivalent of P257 per pack containing three kilos of rice, four can goods and noodles.
Garcia said the task force will first focus on hunger mitigation efforts to cushion the psychological effects of devastation brought by Yolanda to the people in Samar.
He said once the victims are given food, the next step will be to undertake psychosocial intervention among the affected residents.
Along this line, Rafael Bernardo Alejandro, OCD regional director, said his office will lead in conducting a Rapid Damage and Need Assessment (DANA) study in western and eastern Samar.
The OCD, DSWD, Department of Health and Armed Forces of the Philippines will compose the DANA team which will leave Monday to conduct the study.
The data collated will be the basis for determining what towns and villages were severely affected, their populations and where the food packs will be distributed, Alejandro said.
He said that once they get the data, immediately the emergency food packs will be delivered the soonest by means of air, land and sea transports.
“We are still groping in the dark on what to do what to bring and where to bring it due to the absence of information or reports from the agency in Samar,” Alejandro said.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Albay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) chairperson, was assigned for the repacking of food items brought by the DSWD.
Salceda assigned Eden Gonzales of the Governor’s Office to handle the repacking.
Gonzales told the PNA in an interview that she had recruited 1,000 youth volunteers from various public and private schools to do the repacking process in Albay Astrodome, which serves as the central repacking center where volunteers work three shifts a day.
The volunteers can produce 100,000 packs a day as a production target, she said.
To fast track the repacking system, Gonzales said, the province intends to open satellite stations at the Aquinas University Gym, Bicol University Engineering Hall and the Saint Agnes' Academy gymnasium. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD