Floods displace 500,000; 19 dead

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THE HAPPY GIVER President Aquino distributes relief packages—consisting of a sleeping mat, bread, canned goods and rice—to flood victims in Imus, Cavite, on Thursday. LYN RILLON

The number of people whose lives were disrupted by five days of monsoon rains generated by Tropical Storm “Maring” rose to 1.75 million on Thursday, with more than half a million of them, displaced from their homes by floods, huddled in evacuation centers.

Maring blew out of the Philippines on Wednesday but continued to bring rain to areas within its 500-kilometer diameter on Thursday.

At least 19 people died and four remained missing, Maj. Rey Balido, spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said at a news conference.

President Aquino visited evacuation centers in Cavite province, one of the hardest-hit provinces.

The latest fatality was Rodrigo Telles, 69, of Barangay General Luna, Carranglan town, Nueva Ecija province. Telles was earlier reported missing after he was swept away by the floods.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) also listed Arzay Josue, 22, of Sitio (settlement) Silangan, Barangay (village) Dulong Bayan in Bacoor City, Cavite province, as among those who drowned in the flood in the village.

Pangasinan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) deputy chief Ruben Aquino said an unidentified body was recovered along Agno River Thursday morning.

The OCD-Calabarzon also reported that 2-year-old Constantine Hernandez (earlier reported as Constantine Modesto) of Imus City, Cavite, was found caught on a barbed wire that strangled him as he was swept away by floodwaters.

The OCD report said Hernandez had clung to his uncle’s back as they fled their home, but slipped and fell into the muddy torrent.

The NDRRMC had 18 fatalities officially on record, not including the unidentified dead in Pangasinan.

According to OCD Administrator Eduardo del Rosario, the OCD reports only deaths confirmed by the Department of Health (DOH).

Of the 18 fatalities, five were from Cavite. Aside from 2-year-old Hernandez, those killed in the province were 7-year-old Joros Miyage who drowned in Tanza town; Roberto Capili, 53, of Imus City; John Genesis, 23, of Noveleta; and Celedononio Gamban, 39, of Tanza.

Displaced people

The 1.75 million people affected by the monsoon rains came from 1,452 barangays of 118 municipalities, 33 cities and 16 provinces in the Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, the Cordillera Administrative Region, and the National Capital Region, the NDRRMC said.

In Central Luzon alone, 1.02 million people were affected.

Balido said that more than half a million people were displaced, with 214,857 (48,386 families) staying in 709 evacuation centers. Another 345,723 people (71,165 families) chose to stay with families or friends, he said.

5 in state of calamity

At the press conference, the health department’s nurse emergency officer Bong Gamlanga said evacuees were usually treated for fever, headache, cough and cold, diarrhea, and wounds.

Still under a state of calamity are five provinces, eight cities, nine municipalities and two barangays.

These are the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal; the cities of Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Marikina, Pasay, Candon in Ilocos Sur, Dagupan in Pangasinan, and Tarlac; the towns of Pateros, Narvacan, Gregorio del Pilar and Sta. Maria in Ilocos Sur, Sta. Barbara and Calasiao in Pangasinan, Obando and Hagonoy in Bulacan, Abra de Ilog in Occidental Mindoro; and barangays Victoria and Lagnas in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.

Weather monitors at Sangley Point in Cavite recorded 475 millimeters of rainfall in 24 hours (from 8 a.m. on Monday  to 8 a.m. on Tuesday), surpassing last year’s southwest monsoon (habagat) record.

Monsoon rains also pounded Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon in August last year, with Sangley recording 364.2 mm rainfall.

The monthly average rainfall in Sangley is 452.2 mm.

Damage estimates

The NDRRMC said damage to agriculture and infrastructure in llocos, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and the CAR was estimated at P78.8 million.

The Department of Agriculture added damage caused Typhoon “Labuyo” and put the total damage to agriculture at P2.75 billion.

Data from the department’s monitoring showed that as of Thursday, 217,484 metric tons of produce had been lost.

“But we still have to validate this, and there are agencies that have not yet reported their losses, like those involved in coconut and infrastructure,” said acting Agriculture Undersecretary Dante S. Delima.

The NDRRMC said assistance worth P24.5 million, from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the DOH, local governments, and nongovernment organizations have been allocated to the flood victims.

Appeal for donations

The social arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday appealed for donations to raise an initial P2.12 million to help flood victims in six provinces in Luzon.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action national director, urged people to help raise P2,134,500 to cover the priority needs of 15,000 families affected by the monsoon rains in six  dioceses.

“Our plan is to send food items of rice, lentils and assorted canned goods to the dioceses of Bayombong (Quirino Province), Imus (Cavite), San Pablo (Laguna), Iba (Zambales) and Malolos (Bulacan), and the Prelature of Infanta (Aurora), targeting a total of 14,600 families,” Pabillo said.

“Our initial release of Alay Kapwa Funds, as well as dioceses that remitted or pledged their donations for which we are deeply grateful, are still not sufficient for this new target, considering that we now have a big number of dioceses to assist in their emergency needs,” he said.

“Your assistance is still very much needed,” Pabillo added.

He said those who wished to help could deposit their donations at the Bank of the Philippine Islands. The account name is “CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation Inc.” and the account number is 4951-0071-08.

Pabillo added that those with Internet access can also donate online through this link: http://ushare.unionbankph.com/caritasfilipinas/.

P6M from Caritas

Caritas Manila, the lead social service agency of the Church, released P6 million on Thursday to help the flood victims.

In a statement, Caritas Manila said the funds were used to help around 16,000 families. The flood victims received emergency relief packs containing rice, canned foods, biscuits, instant noodles, coffee and mineral water.

More than 1,000 volunteers responded to the call of Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to help her department repack food that would be distributed to the flood victims.

But Soliman said that although big, the number was not enough. She said her department needed more volunteers.

Dam water levels

Meanwhile, La Mesa Dam in Quezon City continued to spill water on Thursday afternoon, although the water level was receding, according to Manila Water Co.

Ipo Dam in Bulacan was also spilling water. Jeric Sevilla, head of corporate communication of Manila Water, said the water level at the dam was steadily rising.

Sevilla said the water level at La Mesa Dam was 80.23 meters as of 5 p.m., still above the spilling level of 80.15 meters.

At Ipo Dam, the water level had reached 100.82 meters by 5 p.m., nearing the spilling level of 101 meters.

“Two out of the three gates at Ipo Dam have been open since Tuesday,” Sevilla said, adding that this was done to prevent the water from reaching spilling level.

The water level at Angat Dam in Bulacan was 197.62 m. At Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija province, the water level was 191.66 meters.

Binga and Ambuklao Dams in Benguet province were almost filled to the brim.

Ambuklao raised its spillway gates opening to 2 meters to release more water after its water level reached 751.81 meters, barely 19 centimeters below the spilling level of 752 meters.

Binga Dam opened one more spillway gate, increasing its open gates to three at 3.5 meters high after the water level reached 574.98 meters, 2 centimeters below the spilling level of 575 meters.

The water level at San Roque Dam in San Manuel town, Pangasinan province, was 268.22 meters, 11.78 meters below the spilling level of 280 meters.

Closed roads

At least 18 major roads in four regions in Luzon remained closed to traffic on Thursday, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Closed but being cleared of storm debris and other obstructions were the Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya road, Shilan-Beckel road, Gurel Bokod-Kabayan-Buglas-Abatan road, Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun road, and the Daklan-Gambung-Bakun road, all in Benguet province in the CAR.

Also closed were the Luna-Bagar road and the San Fernando-Bagulin road, both in La Union province.

Still being cleared were the San Carlos-Calasiao road and the Malcup road, both in Pangasinan province.

The Dinadlawan-Madela road in Aurora province was also being cleared.

Also closed were Layac road in Dinalupihan, Bataan; Bigaa-Plaridel road, Panginay-Balagtas road and Malolos-Calumpit road, all in Bulacan; the Baliwag-Candaba-Sta. Ana road, Apalit-Macabebe-Masantol road and San Gabriel-Masantol road, all in Pampanga; and Tagaytay-Taal Lake road in Batangas.—With reports from Philip C. Tubeza, Cynthia Balana, Jerry E. Esplanada and Ronnel W. Domingo in Manila; Tonette Orejas, Robert Gonzaga and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo, Cristina Arzadon and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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