Survivors of deadly floods that hit the south of the country in December received an early Easter gift yesterday. At least 314 families, who have been living in temporary shelters for the last three months, were relocated to hostels built by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). “I am very grateful to God, to the IOM and to Xavier University for choosing us to live in the bunkhouses,” said Vilma Nunez, a coffee and cigarette vendor from Isla de Oro. Most of those who are being transferred to the new housing are people with disabilities, female-led households, single parent households and the elderly. "I can breathe easier now, which I couldn’t do when I was still living in a tent," said Merry Rose Mejia, 40, who is wheelchair-bound because of polio. "Inside the tent we were afraid that something might happen to us in the middle of the night," she said. "Now we can have some semblance of a normal life in a community unlike when we were in the evacuation center," said Erasto Mabaylan, a construction worker. The IOM earlier distributed US$30,000-worth of shelter repair kits to 205 families whose houses were damaged by the deluge brought by Tropical Storm Washi nine days before Christmas day last year. At least 1,200 people died as a result of the storm which devastated the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. The IOM has already distributed $257,000-worth of repair kits to flood victims.
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