Heavy rains, floods hit 5 regions; 1 dead
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines — More than 300,000 residents in five regions, most of them in the Visayas, have been affected by the low pressure area and shear line that have been bringing heavy rains that triggered widespread flooding and landslides in these areas since early this week, an official of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Wednesday.
In Northern Samar, one of the worst-hit provinces, a woman from Pambujan town died after she was hit by a fallen tree on Tuesday, police said.
At the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing on Wednesday, Mark Timbal, Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-NDRRMC deputy spokesperson, said about 81,000 families were affected by bad weather in the Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Bicol, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) and Caraga regions.
About 3,670 families are housed in 104 evacuation centers, Timbal said.
The NDRRMC said Eastern Visayas had the largest number of affected population at 133,000. At least 3,027 families are staying in evacuation centers, mostly in the Samar provinces, Timbal said.
A total of 149 areas in these regions reported flooding, with 139 still flooded as of reporting time. The NDRRMC said it received reports of 17 rain-induced landslides.
Social Welfare Undersecretary Edu Punay, another guest in the briefing, said the agency had already distributed P3.5 million worth of humanitarian assistance in the affected areas.
Timbal said the NDRRMC Operations Center had yet to receive any report of fatalities but noted that his agency was verifying reports posted on social media about two persons who died in the flooding.
Police in Pambujan, Northern Samar, confirmed that resident Lara Cabidez, who was in her 50s, died after a tree hit her when a landslide damaged their house in Barangay Ynaguingayan, about 30 kilometers from the town center, past 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
“She was inside their house when a tree, uprooted due to a landslide, hit her head. She died instantly,” Staff Sgt. Collin Baldeza, information officer of the Pambujan police, said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
While floodwaters have begun to subside in most parts of Pambujan on Wednesday, Baldeza said several interior barangays remained flooded.
Cabidez was the first confirmed fatality in Northern Samar where 74,500 families were affected by floods, according to Rachel Arnaiz, Catarman information officer. The number of affected people reported by the Catarman local government was higher than the figure released by the NDRRMC.
Arnaiz said 24,594 families (54,419 people) sought temporary shelter in evacuation areas and homes of their relatives, friends, and neighbors, based on a partial report from the Northern Samar Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
State of calamity
Affected were seven of the province’s 24 towns—Palapag, Pambujan, Catarman, Laoang, Capul, Mapanas and Bonbon.
Northern Samar was placed under a state of calamity on Tuesday due to the massive flooding.
Classes and office work were still suspended on Wednesday, as ordered by Gov. Edwin Ongchuan.
Aside from Northern Samar, also affected by massive flooding were Eastern Samar as well as the provinces of Capiz and Aklan on Panay Island.
In Jipapad town, the worst-hit area in Eastern Samar, only seven families remained at the evacuation center on Wednesday, said Vicky Abestros, the local disaster response chief.
“Flooding in the town subsided at 5 a.m. on Wednesday but Jipapad remains without power supply,” she said.
Abestros said the road leading to its next town of Arteche was still not passable due to flooding.
In Aklan, 703 families (2,698 people) from 15 barangays are staying in evacuation centers, according to the OCD in Western Visayas.
In Capiz, 18,494 families (61,705 people) from 76 barangays were affected by the flood.
Nine roads in Capiz were also impassable while large areas of rice fields were still submerged in floodwater which reached as high as 6.7 meters (22 feet) in some villages at the height of heavy rains.
In Mindanao, more than 4,000 people in 17 villages of Tulunan, Cotabato province, were displaced by floods, as rivers, creeks and irrigation canals overflowed due to heavy rains this week.
Tulunan Mayor Ruel Limbungan ordered the forced evacuation of at least 68 families in the village of Popoyon as floodwaters continued to submerge large parts of the community since Tuesday.
Limbungan also suspended classes on all levels in the village and in nearby Barangay Dungos as schools were still submerged in meter-deep floodwaters.