Situation Report
20200114 Teresita with her two children at Santo Tomas school credit OCHA GMaramag
Sto. Tomas, Batangas (14 January 2020) - Teresita and her family of eight arrived at an evacuation centre in Santo Tomas, Batangas, on 13 January after authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of her hometown of Talisay. She is pictured here with two of her children. Credit: OCHA/G. Maramag

I. Taal Volcano eruption: a family’s journey

A family from Talisay is rescued

Teresita, 46 arrived in Sto. Tomas, Batangas on 13 January with her family of eight. Teresita hurriedly packed clothing for her six children between the ages of three and thirteen, leaving behind their home, belongings and two chickens they had been raising. She arrived the night before, fleeing heavy ashfall and frequent earthquakes to seek shelter at an elementary school. She is staying in a classroom with ten other families, relatives who also fled on army trucks. The water is intermittent in the makeshift evacuation centre, and private sector donors are trucking in water daily. She is worried about her kid’s cough and her youngest looking a little frail, but says “I’m glad we were able to leave before it became too dangerous,” she said. ““We were rescued just in time.”

Evacuating the lakeshore town of Talisay

After the Government raised alert levels to 4, signifying that a hazardous explosive eruption was possible within hours or days, provincial authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of Talisay, Batangas one of the at-risk communities within a 14-km radius of the main crate of the Taal Volcano. “I was starting to worry about my children. It was not only raining ash, but also large rocks,” she said. “The earthquakes were getting more frequent and my husband and I were worried the house would collapse.” Army trucks came to evacuate her family and relatives, and they were brought to Sto. Tomas, Batangas, a neighboring town about 40 minutes away.

Taal Volcano eruption affects over 350,000 in Batangas and Cavite province

As of 28 January, over 396,000 people were affected by the Taal Volcano eruption, of whom more than 135,000 people were assisted in evacuation centres and over 170,000 people were with host families. After over two weeks of gradually decreasing volcanic activity, alert-levels were lowered to level-3 on 26 January. Residents evacuated from the 14km perimeter of the volcano but living outside the 7km danger zone are now able return to their homes. Restricted access continues for Agoncillo and Laurel communities in Batangas province, while the Taal Island remains on permanent lockdown. While Teresita and her family have been cleared to return to Talisay, but they have lost two weeks of income and their home will need repair. “I’d like to know what will happen to us down the road,” she said. “I’m worried that we will come back to nothing.”