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Pangasinan towns flooded due to flashfloods from breached dikes, storm surges

newsinfo / Regions
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Pangasinan towns flooded due to flashfloods from breached dikes, storm surges

SAN NICOLAS, Philippines—Typhoon “Quiel” spawned winds that generated storm surges and breached dikes, causing flooding in at least 41 villages in 17 Pangasinan towns.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said the coastal towns of Anda, Infanta, Bolinao, Bani, Binmaley, Bugallon, Lingayen and San Fabian and Dagupan City experienced flashfloods because of storm surges and high tide.

Reports from the PDRRMC said Quiel left five people missing and sent more than 7,000 others to evacuation centers in Pangasinan as it left northern Luzon through La Union late afternoon on Saturday. Pangasinan was among the provinces placed under typhoon signal No. 3 when Quiel struck.

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The provincial police said four of those missing were fishermen from Barangay (village) Germinal in Bolinao, who sailed to the West Philippine Sea on Saturday aboard a small boat.

At least a kilometer of the national highway in Barangay Banaoang in Sta. Barbara town was submerged because of overflowing water from the Sinocalan River, whose dikes were breached in 2009 when Pangasinan was flooded due to heavy rains dumped by typhoon “Pepeng” and water released by the San Roque Dam in San Manuel town.

A breached dike in Barangay Cabitnongan in this town, along the Ambayoan River, submerged schools in the villages of Lungao, Salingcob and Calaocan. The Ambayoan River, which originates from the Caraballo mountains, connects to the Agno River, which comes from the Cordillera mountains.

Floods in San Nicolas were reported to be about a meter (about 3 feet) deep.

Mayor Leoncio Saldivar III said at least 325 people (or 65 families) in four villages traversed by Ambayoan River had to be evacuated because of the flashflood on Saturday. Some 100 people (or 20 families) in the town proper were also evacuated.

But on Sunday morning, the water started receding and residents began returning to their houses, Saldivar said.

He said he has been asking the national national government to build a dike along the river, which almost always overflew during the rainy season.

Waist-deep floodwater was also reported in the northern villages of Balungao town on Saturday.

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Pangasinan Representative Marlyn Primicias-Agabas said that judging from the reports she received, her district, composed of 10 eastern Pangasinan towns, might have been the area hardest hit by Quiel.

“There was too much devastation in the district. Practically all of our palay crops was destroyed,” she said.

Agabas said her district was crisscrossed by practically all of the major river systems in the province and yet its residents’ only protection was old earth dikes.

“We’re really helpless here. I’ve been telling our local officials here that our number one problem is not really lack of school buildings or unpaved roads but our dikes,” she said.

Agabas said all she could secure were funding commitments from the government. She said the Japan International Cooperation Agency has also agreed to fund about P300 million worth of dike projects in her district.

“I have also asked President Aquino to help us secure funding sources for Phase 3 of the Agno River flood control project, which starts downstream from Alcala to San Manuel. And the President told me he would help us,” Agabas said.

John Celeste, regional director of the National Irrigation Administration, said water releases from the San Roque Dam on Saturday washed out a small dam along the Agno River and could disrupt the delivery of irrigation water to farmers.

The dam was made of concrete and earthen materials and could easily be damaged by water from San Roque’s spillways, Celeste said.

Reynaldo Mencias, project manager of the Agno River Integrated Irrigation Project, said the dam was old and would normally be washed out during a strong typhoon and during the release of water from the San Roque dam.

“But we immediately repaired the dam to restore water delivery services to farmers,” Mencias said.

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TAGS: Disasters, floods, Pangasinan, Philippines - Regions, Typhoon Quiel
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