Robredo discusses Cagayan rescue with military, but aerial response may be out
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo is currently coordinating with various teams from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the possible rescue of Cagayan Valley residents trapped due to flooding, but it appears that aerial rescue may not be possible as of now.
Robredo on early Saturday morning provided updates on her Twitter account of the developments in Cagayan Valley, which had residents asking for help as they fear for their lives as floodwaters brought by Typhoon Ulysses engulfed houses in Isabela and Cagayan provinces.
She was given the assurance that Marine rescue teams and police teams are on the way to affected areas.
“Asking if possible to deploy air assets now. Waiting for feedback. Was assured Marine Rescue Teams are on their way,” Robredo said in a tweet.
“While waiting for augmentation to reach Tuguegarao, our team was able to get in touch with PNP Tuguegarao. We forwarded all the compiled requests and calls for help. Limited assets now but MEDEVAC will be prioritized,” she added.
However, Robredo also got word from retired military officers that deploying air assets may not be possible due to the poor visibility, as most areas are still without power.
Despite this, Robredo assured residents and the public that AFP is doing everything it can to rescue people, who are mostly staying on their houses’ roofs.
“Received word from retired military officer that aerial rescue at night is very dangerous and most civilian choppers and its pilots are not night flying capable,” she relayed.
“AFP pursuing all means possible to conduct rescue operations. Will keep you updated,” she noted.
Before this, Robredo was informed that air operators are planning how to conduct air rescue. On the ground, it appeared that amphibious vehicles are also finding it difficult to access towns as the water’s current moves against them.
Earlier, the Vice President assured people in Cagayan Valley that they are working toward helping the region, noting that she has been monitoring the situation. Tweets flooded the Twitter page of Robredo — who converted her social media accounts as a call for rescue mechanism where she facilitates transfer of information from people seeking help and government agencies.
Residents from Isabela province’s Sta. Maria town sent photos to INQUIRER.net on Friday night to show the dire condition they are in. In the photos, it can be seen that waters were already reaching the second floor of their house, with some almost reaching the backboards of basketball courts.
The floods, they said, may be because Magat Dam was forced to open seven gates to release waters, after it reached the spilling level.
On Twitter, the hashtag #CagayanNeedsHelp also trended with various stories and photos about the devastation that Ulysses and the Magat Dam’s opening brought to the area.
Reports of flooding in Cagayan Valley came as floodwaters in Metro Manila and other areas in Rizal have started to recede. This may be due to Magat Dam’s late release of waters.
Data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) showed that Magat Dam — located at the Magat River which is a major tributary of the Cagayan River — has an outflow of 5,073 centimeters.
Despite the large amounts of water released from Magat the dam’s water level only receded to 192.7 meters, which is only 0.30 meters shy of the dam’s normal high level.