By Jel Santos
Five ambulances, respiratory masks, hot meals, rescue vehicles, and a rapid damage and needs assessment team were sent by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to evacuation sites in Batangas after the eruption of Taal Volcano.
PRC Chairman Richard Gordon said the humanitarian organization is on full alert to help the residents affected by the ash fall from Taal Volcano.
“Philippine Red Cross is on full alert. We are preparing for distribution of food and non-food items. We advise everyone to take precautionary measures to avoid inhalation of ashes. Report to us any untoward incidents or call Red Cross hotline 143 in case of an emergency. Our teams are also assessing the immediate needs of the affected residents,” Gordon said in a statement.
The members of the local chapter—PRC Batangas-Nasugbu— have been helping residents badly affected by the eruption.
Gordon reminded the public to give extra care to senior citizens as they are the ones most vulnerable to respiratory diseases brought about by the ash fall.
“Senior citizens must be taken care of, especially those with respiratory diseases as ashes from the volcano continue to overshadow highways and coated cars and streets as far as Metro Manila. Dapat ding walisin ang mga abo sa bubong dahil posibleng bumagsak ito kapag umulan at delikado sa tao,” he said. (Ash on roofs needs to be swept away because it could fall on people when it rains.)
“Volcanic ash is actually pulverized rock and glass from the volcano. It is abrasive, mildly corrosive, can conduct electricity when wet, and doesn’t dissolve in water. Think of it like sand, but gets scattered by the wind, and you can breathe it in. I learned long time ago to always consult scientists in responding to disasters. We were successful in Pinatubo. We will be successful again this time. Thanks to people like Dr. Solidum of Phivolcs and Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo,” Gordon said.
As of 4 p.m. Monday, PRC said Taal continued to emanate lava fountains with volcanic earthquakes and frequent volcanic lightning that rained wet ash fall. Alert Level 4, which warns of a hazardous eruption that could happen within hours to days, has been raised over the affected area since Sunday, up from Alert Level 2.
Evacuation has been advised in two cities and 12 municipalities in Batangas province and nearby towns in Cavite. PRC data showed that over 4,000 families or 14,491 individuals are sheltered at 35 evacuation centers in Cavite (1,361 families) and Batangas (2,664 families) as of Monday afternoon.
The PRC headquarters in Mandaluyong City and nearby chapters are closely monitoring the situation in the affected areas.