Army engineers hard at work clearing 'Yolanda' blocked roads – AFP

November 18, 2013 7:18 am 

By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, Nov. 17 (PNA) — Army engineers have been busy clearing roads and building shelters in the hardest hit areas of Supertyphoon "Yolanda", the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday said.

Last Nov. 12, Engineering Task Force (ETF) "Yolanda" was mobilized and deployed to Tacloban, Leyte.

ETF "Yolanda" is composed of the 51st Engineering Brigade based in Camp Atienza, Manila and the 53rd Engineering Brigade in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City.

Each brigade is made up of two engineering construction Battalions who are specially trained for constructing infrastructure and clearing obstacles.

Their priority missions in Tacloban City are:

-to build shelter for the personnel currently performing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations (HADR)

-to clear roadnets to allow the smooth passage of relief and personnel

-to assist in the installation/operation of a water purification system in Tacloban

-to create/repair necessary infrastructure that was destroyed by calamity.

The officer-in-charge of ETF "Yolanda" is Col. Medardo F. Clarito of the Army Engineers.

On Day 9 (Nov. 16), ETF "Yolanda" was instrumental in opening up the road to two-lane traffic and providing high-speed road access to the Municipality of Tanauan in Southern Leyte from Tacloban.

Working nonstop for four days, Army engineers cleared debris and fallen trees blocking the road.

Armed with chainsaws and heavy equipment like backhoe loaders, they worked tirelessly to open up the road.

With their efforts, the town of Tanauan was reached by military trucks carrying additional aid and relief for the survivors.

Likewise, the 3rd Infantry Division in Panay Island mobilized the 61st Infantry Battalion and the 552nd Engineering Construction Battalion to clear the roadnet that connected Iloilo City to Roxas City last Nov. 9.

Both cities were identified as logistics hubs that will house relief goods and will serve as the nerve centers of the Office of the Civil Defense for Region 6.

The 61st Infantry Battalion armed only with bolos and axes chopped away at the fallen trees that blocked the Calinog-Tapaz road.

Engineers used their heavy equipment to move fallen electrical posts and other debris along Duenas and Passi City in Iloilo entering Capiz province.

It took them two days to clear the roads which allowed military trucks to continuously deliver relief items to communities in Capiz.

Opening up the roads between Tanauan and Tacloban as well as the Iloilo-Capiz roadnet are small victories for our engineers in the Visayas.

But there are still other tasks that they need to accomplish and their sense of urgency motivates them to rise up to the challenge.

There are still other roads that need to be cleared, bridges repaired, shelters and water systems put in place.

We can count on our engineers to do what they do best; that is to help rebuild. Once we start to rebuild our communities, then we start to rebuild our broken spirit. (PNA)

CTB/PFN

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