'Ursula' breaks hearts, dampens Christmas

TWO days before Christmas, Jennifer Rosali had been itching to reunite with her family in Surigao City in Mindanao.

She and her husband had bought presents for their two sons, who already knew they were supposed to come home after months of work in Cebu City.

However, the joy she felt disappeared—the boat trip that would ferry her back to her hometown on Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, was cancelled due to typhoon Ursula.

Rosali and her husband were among the 860 passengers who were stranded in Cebu City Pier 1, following the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) 7’s cancellation of boat trips. The PCG 7 automatically cancelled trips after the state weather bureau raised tropical cyclone wind signal No. 1 over parts of the Visayas.

Incomplete Christmas

Rosali said it would be the first time that she would be celebrating Christmas without her sons, parents and relatives.

Talking to her sons, aged five and eight, over the phone did not erase Rosali’s longing for them. She said she wanted to hug them.

Working for six months in Cebu City gave Rosali a feeling that she had been light-years away from her boys.

“They always called me since they were already waiting for us. They thought that we already boarded the boat and we would arrive tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 24),” she said while her eyes turned wet.

Celebrating Christmas far from home reeks of loneliness for Rosali and her husband. They went back to their place in Consolacion, northern Cebu with heavy hearts.

On duty

As several passengers were stranded at seaports, most members of the disaster response and rescue team of the Mandaue City Government won’t be able to join their loved ones during Noche Buena.

Typhoon Ursula forced them to be on duty, ready to respond to emergency situations. Mayor Jonas Cortes advised the Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MCDRRMO) to monitor Ursula’s status and the situation of the city round-the-clock.

Cortes also told barangay officials to be vigilant and maintain an open communication with the Command Center. The Mandaue City Cultural and Sports Complex, barangay gyms and schools are available for possible preemptive evacuation, he said.

MCDRRMO operations head Felix Suico Jr. said they will monitor 11 flood-prone barangays in the city—Paknaan, Umapad, Tipolo, Subangdaku, Banilad, Cambaro, Looc, Centro, Guizo, Canduman and Ibabao-Estancia.

Since typhoon Ursula came during Christmas time, Suico said it would be a challenge for them to evacuate the Mandauehanons by the time the MCDRRMO declares to implement a preemptive evacuation to avoid loss of lives. (JCT, KFD)