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‘Pedring’ out, ‘Quiel’ in

Typhoon kills 21; 33 others missing


11:29 PM September 28th, 2011

September 28th, 2011 11:29 PM

PEDRING’S FURY Huge waves and strong winds brought by Typhoon “Pedring” knocked down this bronze statue of the late Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson at Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard in Manila. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Typhoon “Pedring” roared out of the country Wednesday, leaving an official death toll of 21, including 10 children with ages ranging from seven months to 10 years.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has lowered all storm signals, but said Pedring would continue to enhance the southwest monsoon to bring scattered to widespread rain over western Luzon.

It also said it was closely watching a tropical storm that could enter the Philippine area of responsibility from the Pacific Ocean at any time.

The storm will be called Quiel once it enters the PAR, the weather bureau said.

As damage reports trickled in, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) confirmed that 21 people were dead, 25 more were injured and 33 others were missing as of 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Five people died in the National Capital Region, seven in Central Luzon, two in Bicol, two in the Cordillera Administrative Region, two in Ilocos, two in Cagayan Valley, and one in Calabarzon.

The NDRRMC said that 112 people were rescued at the height of the typhoon, and that nearly 10,000 families (or about 48,000 persons) were still in evacuation centers.

From initial reports, Pedring (international name: Nesat) destroyed at least P912 million worth of crops, livestock and fisheries, and at least P72 million in infrastructure, including nearly 5,000 damaged houses.

Weeping farmers

In Candaba, Pampanga, Mayor Jerry Pelayo said he saw farmers weeping as they tried to harvest the palay flattened by Pedring’s winds.

“This is the second time that their crops were ruined. The first was in July. The second time was painful because they planted on loans again, while others pawned their land to get loans,” Pelayo said by phone.

At least 61 road sections in Luzon remained impassable due to floods, landslides, mudflows and fallen debris.

Pedring intensified over the West Philippine Sea but no longer posed a threat as it exited the Philippine area of responsibility at around 1 p.m. and headed to southern China, Pagasa said.

Power ‘emergency’

In preparation for the new storm, Energy Secretary Jose Almendras on Wednesday declared a “state of emergency” in power in Luzon in order to undertake an “emergency procedure” that would ensure safe and timely water releases from the dams.

Almendras said at a briefing that the procedure involved putting hydropower facilities on priority dispatch so that water released from the dams could be used for power generation.

He said the declaration of the state of emergency was intended to allow the Department of Energy to direct transmission operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) and the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) to give priority to such facilities in Luzon.

This means that the capacity generated by these plants should be the first to be consumed among other power sources.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said that as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, only 189,000 customers (or 3.8 percent of its 4.9-million franchise base) remained without power and that only seven of its 698 circuits had yet to be energized.

“[These] are mostly isolated circuits, or circuits which have been badly damaged, or the restoration of which is made more difficult by obstructions like debris,” said Alfredo Panlilio, Meralco senior vice president and head of customer retail services and corporate communications.

Panlilio said Meralco’s service crews would continue to work around the clock until power had been restored to all its clients.

In a separate report, NGCP said eight provinces in Luzon still had areas without power as of 4 p.m. Wednesday because of damaged transmission lines and facilities.

NGCP said 96 percent of Nueva Vizcaya province remained without power, 81 percent of Isabela, 67 percent of La Union, 57 percent of Bataan, 73 percent of Nueva Ecija, 6 percent of Pampanga, 98 percent of Zambales, and 63 percent of Benguet.

The power supply in eight towns and a city in western Pangasinan, cut off by fallen trees, has yet to be restored. More than 70 villages in central Pangasinan were also without power.

Agri damage

As much as P729 million worth of crops and infrastructure were damaged, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The latest DA figures showed that P725.109 million worth of corn, rice and high-value commercial crops were lost when Pedring pummeled Luzon with raging winds and strong rains.

Damage to fisheries infrastructure was estimated at P4.08 million.

According to the DA, 45,607 metric tons of crops were damaged during the typhoon. Of these, rice made up 35,175 MT; corn, 6,322 MT; and high-value commercial crops, 110 MT.

The “affected” areas added up to 77,864 hectares, the DA said.

But it said 77,062 ha (66,825 ha of rice, 10,127 of corn and 110 of high-value commercial crops) had a chance of recovery.

To ensure that families would not go hungry, the National Food Authority (NFA) issued 10,425 bags of rice for distribution to typhoon victims.

NFA Administrator Angelito Banayo said in a statement that the bags of rice were distributed to families in Bicol, Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley.

Banayo also said that despite the damage, the rice stock was still sufficient.

He said that as of the third week of September, the overall food security inventory was at 2.5 million MT—equivalent, he said, to 75 days’ supply given the estimated domestic daily requirement of 34,000 MT.

The NFA said its rice inventory was equivalent to 52 percent of the country’s total rice stock.

Delayed impact

As Pedring moved toward the West Philippine Sea, residents of Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon began feeling the impact of the heavy rains it dumped on Tuesday. Waterways swelled and dams began releasing water, causing massive flooding.

Among the provinces worst hit by floods are Isabela and Bulacan.

Reports from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Isabela said at least four people drowned in Cauayan City and the towns of Angadanan, Naguilian and Jones.

Heavy water releases from Magat Dam in Isabela sent 3,285 residents fleeing to high grounds and evacuation centers.

Saturnino Tenedor, Magat Dam instrumentation section chief, said the reservoir level breached the 193 meters above sea level (masl) critical level by 1.71 masl on Wednesday. Seven gates of the dam were opened.

Marooned on rooftops

At least 55 villages in the capital Ilagan had been flooded since Tuesday, said information officer Antonio Montereal Jr. He said teams had been going around town to rescue residents marooned on their rooftops and to give them food.

The northern villages of Isabela were also isolated after the Tagaran Bridge in Cauayan was rendered impassable by rising river water.

In Bulacan province, rising waters in Bocaue town forced residents to park their cars on a flyover.

Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said the release of water from the Angat, Bustos and Ipo dams caused widespread flooding in 21 towns including Norzagaray, San Miguel, San Rafael, Bustos, Baliuag, Plaridel, Calumpit, Pulilan, Paombong and Hagonoy.

He ordered a forced evacuation of 30,314 people.

At least 12 of the 49 villages of San Miguel town were submerged after dikes there and in nearby Doña Remedios Trinidad town were damaged on Tuesday.

Trash slide kills 2

In Olongapo City, 26-year-old Lanivhie Ganseco and her 14-month-old daughter, Shanaia, were killed on Tuesday night when a portion of the city dump was loosened by rains.

Mayor James Gordon Jr. said the trash slide buried the huts of three families but that as of 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, only the Gansecos’ bodies had been found. A man identified as Eduardo Doesnt, 38, was reported missing.

In Pangasinan province, Governor Amado Espino Jr. asked operators of the San Roque Dam in San Manuel town to order a “preemptive release” of water from the reservoir and not wait until the water reached critical level.

The reservoir’s level was recorded at 276.49 masl, more than 3 masl below its spilling level of 280 masl as of 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“It is difficult to ease the people’s apprehension. National Power Corp. and San Roque Power Corp. should coordinate on the water releases,” Espino said.

Refuge in cemetery

Reports from the Office of Civil Defense in Central Luzon said Pedring flooded 224 of 3,102 villages there, sending 66,849 people to barangay halls, schools and churches for shelter.

Displaced residents of Cabanatuan City sought refuge in a cemetery.

Four people remained missing in the provinces of Aurora, Tarlac and Pampanga. They include a boy and a girl who were swept away by lahar that the rains remobilized in the Pasig-Potrero River in Porac, Pampanga, on Tuesday.

The typhoon left 672 families homeless and 326 others with damaged houses.

Floods and winds destroyed palay valued at P865.4 million, vegetables worth P3.05 million, and P26.9 million worth of fish stocks, the DA said. Aurora incurred the biggest losses.

41 evac sites in Calabarzon

In Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), 18,271 persons (or 3,736 families) remained at 41 evacuation sites.

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council  said 21,767 persons (or 4,517 families) were affected by the typhoon that caused storm surges and floods in parts of the region and damaged roads and infrastructure.

In Batangas province, 60 houses in the towns of Sta. Teresita and Taal and in Lipa City were totally ruined, while 12 were partially damaged by the strong winds.

The Bagbag bridge connecting the towns of Nasugbu, Lian and Calatagan remained closed to light vehicles because of damage caused by the flood.

Knee- to waist-deep floods were reported in the towns of San Pedro, Sta. Cruz, Mabitac and Sta. Maria in Laguna province. Reports from Dona Z. Pazzibugan, TJ Burgonio, Amy R. Remo and Leila B. Salaverria in Manila; Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Tonette Orejas, Robert Gonzaga, Armand Galang and Jo Martinez-Clemente, Inquirer Central Luzon; Villamor Visaya Jr., Yolanda Sotelo, Gabriel Cardinoza and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Maricar Cinco and Mar Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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