‘Pepito’ spawns flooding in Luzon
MANILA, Philippines — Tropical Depression “Pepito” intensified into a tropical storm on Tuesday, dumping heavy rains that caused flooding in several areas in Luzon.Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba ordered the evacuation of villagers in low-lying areas and deployed rescuers to flood-prone communities as incessant rains submerged the village of Gagabutan in Rizal town.
Floods were also reported in nine villages in Lopez town, Quezon province, as well as portions of Calauag and Tagkawayan towns on Tuesday.
Pepito (international name: Saudel) was expected to make landfall in Aurora or Isabela province on Tuesday night, moving westward across Luzon with winds of up to 75 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 90 kph, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, it was tracked at 110 km east of Baler, Aurora.
Signal No. 2 was hoisted over the provinces of La Union, Ifugao, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Aurora, the southern portion of Isabela, the southern portion of Ilocos Sur, the northern portion of Zambales, and northern portion of Quezon.
Signal No. 1 was raised over Abra, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Metro Manila, Rizal, the northern portion of Camarines Norte, the rest of the northern portion of Quezon, and the rest of Zambales.
In Isabela, residents in the coastal towns of Palanan and Dinapigue and the eastern towns of Echague, Jones, San Agustin and San Mariano were warned of possible flooding and landslides.
The Talolong River in Lopez, Quezon, overflowed due to the surge of seawater brought in by high tide around 5 a.m. on Tuesday. “But the water subsided around 8 a.m.,” said Jimar Marjalinao of the municipal disaster management office.
In Pampanga, at least 37 villages in the coastal towns of Masantol and Macabebe were already flooded even before Pepito hit a big portion of Luzon. The provincial disaster risk reduction and management council said high tide and monsoon rain caused the flooding.
Evacuation centers were being readied by local governments in Pangasinan, Pampanga and Quezon provinces.
Dam water levels
Water was released from Binga Dam in Benguet province at 3 p.m. on Tuesday due to continuous rain. The stock at the dam was 574.32 meters above sea level (masl), nearing its 575-masl maximum operating mark.
Ambuklao, Angat and Ipo dams had water levels still below their maximum operating levels.
The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) said it was monitoring the lake water, warning that a critical level could trigger shoreland flooding.
As of Tuesday, the lake water level was 11.80 meters, 0.45 meter higher than the baseline, said Emil Hernandez of the environmental regulations department, adding that it was still within the normal range.
Once the water rises to its critical level of 12.50 meters, flooding is expected in the lakeshore areas in Laguna, Rizal and Metro Manila.
On Tuesday, Pepito continued to move west-northwest at 30 kph and was expected to exit over the West Philippine Sea on Wednesday, where it could further strengthen into a severe tropical storm on the following day.
Pagasa warned that the storm was forecast to pass over the upper Pampanga River Basin area, bringing light to moderate, with at times heavy, rainfall until Wednesday.
Residents should expect a “slow to gradual rise” of the Upper Pampanga River, including its major tributaries, such as Coronel, Digmala, Penaranda, Talavera and Rio Chico.
“Rivers and tributaries within the Pasac-Guagua Sub-Basin are also likely to rise slowly but to remain below bankfull capacity,” the weather bureau said.
—Reports from Villamor Visaya Jr., Yolanda Sotelo, Tonette Orejas, Kimberlie Quitasol, Armand Galang, Maricar Cinco, Delfin T. Mallari Jr. and Jhesset O. Enano
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