Sunshine signals start of cleanup in Luzon

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HEAVY mist blanketed Baguio City on Aug. 21, creating a shroud of white over Burnham Park, Baguio Cathedral and downtown Baguio. Baguio had been experiencing days of monsoon rains. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—Government employees began to clean up neighborhoods around northern and central Luzon on Friday when sunshine finally greeted them after days of unrelenting rain.

Workers here, for example, were sent to pull out or trim vegetation that had grown along roads and remove potential dwelling places for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Floods also started to subside in Pangasinan, Bulacan and Pampanga provinces.

But the effects of the unrelenting monsoon rains these past few days remained.

Local disaster risk reduction and management officials reported another fatality, Ed Paulo Maco de la Cruz, 12, of Apalit village in Floridablanca town in Pampanga province, who drowned on Thursday. The death toll in Central Luzon now stood at seven.

In Mt. Province, elders of Sagada town turned to upland spirits in the search for a missing tourist, Eiren Manaois of Dagupan City, who was trapped by rampaging waters inside the town’s popular Sumaguing Cave on Sunday.

As of Friday, 18,808 people were staying in 115 evacuation centers in Pampanga.

Floods affected 262 villages in the City of San Fernando and 20 Pampanga towns.

But in Pangasinan, thousands of residents, who were displaced by the floods since Aug. 20, left their evacuation centers on Friday as floodwaters receded.

Some 350 people remained at the evacuation center in Calasiao town after 10 villages remained flooded, according to Mayor Mark Roy Macanlalay.

The Marusay River cuts through Calasiao, which is downstream of the Sinocalan River that starts from the Cordillera mountains.

Macanlalay said the Calasiao-San Carlos Road was still not passable to jeepneys and other light vehicles because of the waist-deep water that had submerged a portion of the road.

He said floodwaters in his town had receded “very slowly” because of the high tide in neighboring Dagupan City. “But hopefully, by Saturday, it will be gone and our evacuees will be able to go home,” he said.

Sta. Barbara Mayor Carlito Zaplan said only five families remained in the town’s evacuation center. Sta. Barbara and Calasiao were the only towns in the province that declared a state of calamity.

In Mangatarem town, 13 of 72 villages remained under water while only five villages remained flooded in Dagupan City.

At 6 a.m on Friday, the Ambuklao and Binga dams in Benguet province were still spilling water. The two dams opened two spillway gates each at the height of the storm.

Ambuklao had a water elevation of 750.90 meters above sea level (masl), which is 1.10 meters below its spilling level of 752 masl. Binga’s water level was 573.36 masl, 1.64 m below its spilling level of 575 masl.

The water level at the San Roque Dam in San Manuel town, Pangasinan province, increased by 3.38 m in the last

24 hours. Its water level was 271.3 masl, 8.7 m below its spilling level of 280 masl.

In Sagada, Robert Pangod, municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer, said elders performed indigenous rituals to implore their ancestors and spirits inside the Sumaguing Cave to help them in the search for Manaois. She was among 31 tourists who were trapped inside the cave. Her companions, including 13 Japanese students, were rescued on Monday.

Eleven rural electric cooperatives in Central Luzon, in a display of unity, agreed to send 55 of their men to Aurora province to help restore power lines destroyed or damaged by  Typhoon “Labuyo” more than a week ago. Reports from Jun Malig and Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon;  Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo and Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon

 

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