‘Mario’ aftermath: Gov’t brings relief to Ilocos, to restore power in 4 days
LAOAG CITY, Philippines — Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II on Monday met with officials of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur provinces, areas placed under states of calamity, following the onslaught of Tropical Storm “Mario” (international name: Fung-Wong), to discuss government efforts to help typhoon victims.
Ilocanos displaced by storm Mario are in need of food and shelter assistance. Reports have also surfaced that it will take four more days to restore power in the two Ilocos provinces.
Roxas flew from Baguio City to the Laoag International Airport at noon, accompanied by presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas to meet with Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson at the provincial capitol here.
Responding to Marcos’ plea, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) sent more than 3,000 food packs, through a C-130 cargo plane of the Philippine Air Force, to the province on Sunday night, to help families hit by the storm.
Roxas said the DSWD and the Department of Agriculture would offer cash-for-work and food-for-work programs for the next three months, as well as provide seeds and fertilizers to farmers who lost their crops.
Roxas said agricultural losses were significant because these crops were ready for harvest.
He said people who lost their houses would each be entitled to P7,000 in financial assistance, while those whose houses were damaged would each receive P5,000.
Marcos and Singson appealed for the release of their respective provinces’ share from the tobacco excise tax, in order to repair and rehabilitate irrigation systems and dams.
Singson said swollen rivers, floods and landslide-hit roads have made access to at least 14 towns in Ilocos Sur difficult.
Singson said the province’s agriculture sector took the biggest blow with at least P82 million worth of losses. Damage to the province’s roads, bridges, dikes and public buildings reached P12 million.
The restoration of electricity supply in Ilocos Norte would take at least four days as strong winds whipped up by Mario cut major power lines and toppled electric posts on Friday and Saturday, said Rey Lazo, board president of the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC).
Classes in elementary and high schools in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur were suspended on Monday as these provinces started rehabilitation and relief efforts.
Mario left Ilocos Norte with one dead and at least P450.2 million worth of losses in crops, livestock and fisheries and damaged roads, bridges and buildings.
About 1,000 houses in Nueva Era, Burgos, Banna, Piddig, Pasuquin, Paoay and Sarrat towns and Batac City were either destroyed or damaged.
Marcos also met with farmers’ organizations on Sunday to discuss a recovery plan and hasten efforts to rehabilitate farms damaged by the storm.
The provincial government said a loan fund of at least P5 million has been made available for mango and dragon fruit growers’ associations to help them recover.
Singson said the Ilocos Sur provincial government has requested a helicopter to deliver relief goods to the towns of Quirino, Sugpon and Sigay.
The province recorded one storm-related fatality – a seven-month-old baby from Narvacan town.
Power has yet to be restored in most of the Ilocos Sur’s 32 towns and two cities after Mario’s strong winds toppled electric posts and trees that snapped power lines.
In Pangasinan province, flooding caused by monsoon rains and “Mario” continued to linger in at least 53 villages in seven Pangasinan towns and cities, according to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
At least 15 villages in Dagupan City remained under water, prompting Mayor Belen Fernandez to suspend classes from preschool to high school levels on Monday.
“Although our roads are no longer flooded, we would like to ensure the safety of our students,” Fernandez said.
At least 100 families were still at the evacuation center at the Dagupan City astrodome.
Aside from Dagupan, flood waters still lingered in the towns of Calasiao, Sta. Barbara, Binmaley, San Fabian, Mangaldan and Urdaneta City, said Avenix Arenas, PDRRMC spokesperson.
Worst-hit was Calasiao town, with all of its 24 villages still under water.
The town is traversed by the Sinocalan River, where run-off water from eastern Pangasinan towns pass through on its way to the Lingayen Gulf.
Arenas said that as of 8 p.m. Sunday, the water level at Sinocalan River was high at 7.57 meters.
Water elevation at the San Roque Dam in San Manuel town was recorded at 278.56 meters above sea level (masl) at 6 a.m. Monday. The dam’s normal level is 280 masl.
Virgilio Garcia, hydrologist and chief of the National Power Corporation’s Agno Flood Forecasting and Warning System, said the San Roque Power Corp. (SRPC) was still on a “must-run” operation.
But he said water flowing into the dam’s reservoir had decreased from 700 cubic meters per second (cms) on Sunday to only about 400 cms on Monday.
One cubic meter of water is equivalent to 1,000 liters.
“By putting SRPC in a must-run operation, we are implementing some sort of preemptive water release,” Garcia said.
The water spilled from the dam is collected by a re-regulating pond, which can store 4 million cubic meters of water that could irrigate some 55,000 hectares of rice land in Pangasinan and in the neighboring provinces of Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.
“We have to lower the dam’s water level to 270 masl to prepare it for an incoming weather disturbance,” Garcia said.
According to the flood bulletin of the Agno River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (ARBFFWC) in Rosales town at 4 a.m. Monday, the water level at the Sinocalan River will remain “above critical” in the next 12 hours.
“Flooding still to remain in the low-lying areas [in the towns of] Sta. Barbra, Calasiao, Binmaley, Binalonan, Malasiqui, and in the cities of Dagupan and Urdaneta,” the flood bulletin said.
It also said that the water level in the Agno River and its tributaries will rise slowly and may possibly flood the towns of San Nicolas, San Manuel, Asingan, Sto. Tomas, Alcala, Bautista, Bayambang, Urbiztondo, Mangatarem, Aguilar, Bugallon, Labrador and Lingayen and San Carlos City. Reports from Leilanie Adriano, Leoncio Balbin Jr., Gabriel Cardinoza and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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