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The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) on Thursday activated its local shelter cluster teams in quake-affected areas in Luzon following the magnitude 7.3 earthquake on Wednesday.

The activation of Shelter Clusters in the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera regions was in compliance with the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to fasttrack government assistance to the families affected by the strong earthquake that shook the northern part of the country. 

In a memorandum issued Thursday, Assistant Secretary Melissa Aradanas, DHSUD-OIC, ordered the Department’s Regional Offices 1, 2 and Cordillera Administrative Region to immediately convene their respective shelter clusters to closely monitor updates and respond to the needs of victims for shelter assistance.

The regional shelter clusters were also tasked to develop an emergency implementation plan on the appropriate interventions, such as response, early recovery, rehabilitation and sustainable recovery for the affected families.

“Upon instruction of the National Risk Reduction Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to activate its shelter cluster yesterday (July 27) afternoon, we promptly alerted our concerned regional offices to put into motion the regional clusters so that we can monitor and facilitate emergency response and humanitarian assistance to those in need,” Assistant Secretary Aradanas said.

DHSUD leads the Shelter Cluster of the NDRRMC and will soon take over the government’s Emergency Shelter Assistance Program with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

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As of July 28, a total or 4,969 families or 20,091 persons from Regions 1 and CAR were reported to have been affected by the earthquake. Among them, 2, 312 families or 8,314 individuals are currently in temporary shelters in 31 evacuation centers while 413 families are staying with relatives or friends in Ilocos Sur, La Union, Abra and Mountain Province.

Damaged houses totaled to 358, nine of which were completely destroyed, particularly in the provinces of Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra and Mountain Province.

As a quick response measure, Assistant Secretary Aradanas said DHSUD is coordinating with the International Organization for Migration to provide 3,000 shelter-grade tarps for the affected families.

“We are mobilizing our partners as well as all members of the shelter clusters to harmonize our efforts and facilitate faster response,” Assistant Secretary Aradanas said.

Since yesterday, DHSUD regional offices in the north have started constant monitoring of updates on the extent of damages to aptly provide the needed support to the victims. — MGL