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Yolanda swept through Bantayan like a solid wall of smoke – survivor

November 11, 2013 9:15pm

Yolanda in Cebu
Yolanda in Cebu. Yolanda's devastation in Medellin and Daanbantayan in Cebu. Ivan Mayrina @ivanmayrina
Edwin Lopez of Lipayran, an islet in Bantayan, struggled to find words to describe the strong winds that tore off the roof of their house when Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the island at the northern tip of Cebu province. 
"Parang usok (It was like smoke)," Lopez was able to say in explaining the monster strength of Yolanda, the world's strongest typhoon to hit land. "Napakalakas na parang may pagka-brown... Kakaiba talaga... Basta, ang hirap ipaliwanag," he said.
Lopez, who was with his six-year-old child and wife, accommodated some 15 families in their house, one of the very few concrete residences in their barangay of 3,067 people.
The father of three who makes a living of transporting fish to the city said the sea swelled and brought corals and debris to their house, making them itch.
They were all safe when the storm passed, Lopez said, but the roof of their house was blown away by the wind.
"Nakaka-tindig balahibo talaga. 'Yung mga bahay, nawasak. 'Yung iba, walang makain," Lopez told GMA News Online by phone.
But Bantayan Island, located north of Cebu province, was relatively lucky on that Friday when Yolanda, one of the world's strongest typhoons, struck - it was spared from a storm surge as the sea was on low tide, a renowned environmental lawyer said.
"Fortunately, it was a very low tide... Suwerte pa rin kami dito sa Bantayan," lawyer Tony Oposa, recipient of the 2008 Environmental Law Award from the US-based Center for International Environmental Law, said by phone.
But the storm, with maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 250 kph, tore off the roofs of about 90 percent of houses on the island, Oposa said.

Meanwhile, no more than 25 residents were killed, he said
"The damage is pretty bad. Maybe 90 percent of all houses have no more roofs, and the smaller houses made of light materials were all gone. Literally gone with the wind, kasi parang binuhat raw ng hangin," said Oposa, who was in Bantayan Island to check on their family's School of the SEA, where he teaches sustainable living.
Yolanda practically erased all the buildings of the school save for two, Oposa said, but their employees were all safe from Yolanda's wrath.
Meanwhile, ex-seaman Arnulfo Golisao asked for help as food is running out in their island barangay.
"Ang problema dito sa amin, pagkain at tubig. Kasi ang iniinom namin dito, tubig ulan. At 'yung time na 'yun, wala kaming mainom. 'Yung ulan may kasama nang dagat, kaya maalat," Golisao said by phone.
"Halos ang mga bahay rito, ubos. Ang natira lang dito mga wala nang bubong, nakatayo na lang siya. Ubos ang lahat," he added. 
Golisao said he is safe with his parents after they took shelter in their concrete house, but the roof was torn off at the height of the storm.
"Sa ngayon, mag-hati-hati na lang kami sa lugaw at noodles," he said.
Both Golisao and Lopez said relief efforts have been reaching the islet since Sunday, but the supplies are soon to run out.
"Wala talagang natirang (pagkain), sir," Golisao said.
As of Monday morning, the official death toll stands at 255 nationwide, but a police official feared it may have stood at 10,000 fatalities in Leyte province alone, where about 80 percent of the structures were destroyed.
Yolanda, which brought monster winds and tsunami-like waves on Friday, is officially the fourth strongest tropical cyclone in world history in terms of overall strength.
President Benigno Aquino III on Monday declared a state of national calamity following the devastation caused by Yolanda. — JDS, GMA News
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