Catanduanes, Albay bear brunt of Super Typhoon Rolly | Inquirer News

Catanduanes, Albay bear brunt of Super Typhoon Rolly

/ 05:32 AM November 03, 2020

WASTELAND A resident on Monday cooks a meal for her family amid the ruins of their home and those of their neighbors in Basud village, Tabaco City, Albay province, after the devastation caused by Typhoon “Rolly’’ on Sunday. —MARK ALVIC ESPLANA

The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year destroyed thousands of homes and killed at least 20 people in the Bicol region, officials said on Monday, as communication lines in the worst-hit areas remained down.

Catanduanes and Albay provinces were hit hardest by Typhoon “Rolly” (international name: Goni), which struck the region as a supertyphoon on Sunday morning, bringing ferocious winds that toppled houses, trees and communication lines, and triggering flooding and landslides that engulfed houses and sent thousands of people fleeing to emergency shelters.


President Duterte toured typhoon damage in the region by air on Monday and landed in Guinobatan, Albay province, where he told residents that Bicol would always be in harm’s way “as long as it is facing the Pacific Ocean and a volcano is here.”


He was referring to Mt. Mayon, which residents of Guinobatan asked him to check out for quarrying, on which they blamed avalanches of volcanic ash and mud whenever it rained.

“Who owns the quarry sites?” Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, the President’s former longtime aide who accompanied him on the tour, asked the residents.

“Politicians,” one resident shouted.

Mr. Duterte and Go promised to look into the quarrying on the volcano before leaving for an aerial inspection of storm damage in southern Luzon.

In a televised public address after arriving in Manila, Mr. Duterte reported the Guinobatan residents’ complaint and said he had asked Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to investigate the quarrying on Mt. Mayon.

“I said we will look into it. We will ask Secretary Villar and Secretary Cimatu who would have knowledge about these things, if they can do something about this,” Mr. Duterte said.


Later, Cimatu ordered a halt to quarrying around Mt. Mayon and suspended the permits of 12 groups operating in the area. Cimatu said initial investigation found that the operators had left their stockpile on rivers, which swelled during heavy rain brought by Rolly, inundating villages and killing four people.

Civil defense officials said Rolly, which weakened into a typhoon as it swept across southern Luzon on Sunday afternoon, displaced 372,381 people and left 53,863 homes without electricity.

POWER DOWN Motorcyclists on Monday drive under electric posts in Bacacay town, Albay province, that had been toppled by strong winds brought by Typhoon “Rolly.’’ —MARK ALVIC ESPLANA

CLEANING UP A family in Tierra Verde Subdivision in Batangas City bails out mud from their home the morning after the storm. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Volcanic ash, mud flows

Of the 20 who lost their lives in the storm, five were from Catanduanes and one was from Albay, the officials said.

Most of the fatalities were either swept away or buried by volcanic ash and mud that thundered down the slopes of Mt. Mayon as torrential rain and monster winds whipped the active volcano in Albay.

Ten of the fatalities were from that province, but provincial disaster chief Cedric Daep said that without preemptive evacuations, “thousands would have died.”

Search and rescue efforts were going on Monday for three people reported missing in Albay.

Flooding hit the Albay towns of Camalig, Santo Domingo, Oas, Polangui, Guinobatan, Rapu-Rapu and Daraga.

In Camarines Sur province, flooding was reported in 30 towns.

Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua said Rolly was more devastating than other strong typhoons that hit the province in previous years.

“If we compare Typhoon Rolly to previous supertyphoons like ‘Rosing’ (Angela) in 1995 and 2016’s Typhoon ‘Nina’ (Nock-ten), Typhoon Rolly was stronger,” Cua said in an online briefing.

Damage to the province’s prime abaca industry was estimated at P400 million, and to other crops at P200 million, Cua said.

Police Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, the police deputy chief for operations, said 90 percent of infrastructure in Catanduanes were damaged.

Catanduanes Rep. Hector Sanchez said almost 10,000 small houses on the coast were “totally washed out.”

More than 3,000 big houses were damaged, he added.

Communication to the island-province was cut off for hours until a civil defense team landed on Monday with telecommunication equipment.

Cua appealed to the telecommunication companies to restore their lines so that residents could communicate with their relatives in Manila and overseas, and to the Department of Energy to help the local electric cooperative expedite the repair of power lines destroyed by the typhoon.

He called on transportation officials to restore the ferry service between the province and Albay.

At a briefing in national disaster council office at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque assured Cua that relief was on the way to Catanduanes and that he himself would coordinate with the telcos for the restoration of communication to the island.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported during the briefing that 14 national road sections, mostly in Camarines Sur, remained closed due to landslides, flooding, and fallen trees and electric posts.

The DPWH said clean-up efforts were under way on nine other national road sections rendered impassable by two previous typhoons.

The three typhoons closed to traffic 23 national road sections, the department said.

“We are working 24/7, especially in the Bicol region, to ensure we assist affected areas that need relief operations,” Villar, the public works chief, said in a statement.

Social Welfare Undersecretary Felicisimo Budiongan said his agency had distributed relief worth more than P164,000 in Albay.

RELIEF Volunteers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development on Monday repack boxes of food to be donated to typhoon victims. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Help for farmers, fishermen

Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured farmers and fishermen of assistance to help them recover from damage to their industries caused by Rolly.

Dar said his department had a quick response fund of P400 million for the rehabilitation of damaged agricultural areas.

The 18th tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines this year, Rolly affected 2.1 million people in Luzon, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy.

Ahead of Rolly’s landfall, the country was still reeling from Typhoon “Quinta” (Molave) that killed 22 people, mostly through drowning in provinces south of Metro Manila.

Another storm, “Siony” (Atsani), is gaining strength in the Pacific Ocean as it approaches the Philippines, which is hit by around 20 tropical storms annually.

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—Reports from Leila B. Salaverria, Rey Anthony Ostria, Mar Arguelles, Jeannette I. Andrade, Jerome Aning, Dona Z. Pazzibugan, AFP and Reuters


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