Cagayan farms hit hard by ‘Florita’
Cagayan, the province hardest hit by the onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Florita (international name: Ma-on) this week, lost about P344 million worth of agricultural products, government reports showed on Thursday.
The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist said at least 10,608 hectares of corn and rice farms in 17 localities in Cagayan were damaged, with losses pegged at P194 million.
The storm also damaged at least 461 ha of the province’s fishponds, which incurred losses reaching P150 million.
At a press briefing in Manila on Wednesday, Agriculture Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista said no price increase for vegetables was expected in the National Capital Region following the devastation from Florita, which pummeled northern Luzon on Monday and Tuesday.
Evangelista said most of the damaged farms were rice fields, noting that the agency would continue to assess the impact of the storm on the agriculture sector.
The death toll from storm- related incidents climbed to six, with the latest fatalities reported in Cagayan province, local officials said on Thursday.
Police reports in Cagayan said Rogelio Bernardino, 63, a resident of Sto. Niño town, was struck by a falling tree on Tuesday at the height of Florita’s onslaught.
Police said the other fatality was an unidentified man who drowned in a river in Lal-lo town and whose body was retrieved on Wednesday.
Four other deaths related to the storm were previously reported in the provinces of Isabela, Kalinga, and Camarines Sur.
A report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Thursday said the storm, which left the Philippine area of responsibility on Wednesday, affected 11,593 families (47,169 people) in the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), and Metro Manila.
Florita also displaced at least 10,355 people, most of whom remained in 129 evacuation centers in these areas.
Around P4 million worth of assistance have been given to storm victims.
In Central Luzon, the number of families affected by Florita rose to 416 (1,472 people) in the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Tarlac and Zambales as of Thursday, the regional disaster risk reduction and management council (RDRRMC) said.Two evacuation centers remained open in Zambales, serving nine families (25 people).
The RDRRMC said the water level in Angat Dam in Bulacan province rose to 177.61 meters above sea level, still below the normal level of 212 masl.
The elevation in Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija province was at 187.69 masl, which was below the normal 221 masl.
As of Thursday, the number of flooded barangays in Pampanga went down to 13 and to two in Zambales.
Damage to agriculture in Aurora and Zambales reached P4.9 million.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development and local governments provided aid worth P280,230 in Central Luzon.
—WITH REPORTS FROM TONETTE OREJAS AND FRANCES MANGOSING
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