Ifugao placed under state of calamity
LAGAWE, Ifugao—Officials and residents are calling on the national government for help following the devastation wrought by Typhoons “Pedring” (international name: Nesat) and “Quiel” (international name: Nalgae) last week that has isolated the province from the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley.
“All of our most basic needs—roads, power, communications—are out. This is the time we now call on the national government for help,” Governor Eugene Balitang said on Monday.
The provincial board placed the province under a state of calamity to free up funds to be used in reopening roads blocked by landslides there.
Balitang said the typhoons destroyed at least P230 million worth of roads, bridges and crops.
Representative Teodoro Baguilat Jr. said at least 136 houses were destroyed while another 1,750 were damaged.
Baguilat attended a briefing by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), which informed board members that relief workers are awaiting bridge parts from Bataan to repair the collapsed Burnay Bridge, a major link to interior towns of Ifugao.
Reports from the PDRRMC said national and provincial roads connecting eight of Ifugao’s 11 towns had been closed due to landslides.
The province recorded four landslide fatalities, said Marcela Cortez of the PDRRMC secretariat.
The Burnay Bridge (known here as Dugong Bridge), which links the province’s main highway in Tungngod and Poblacion East villages here, collapsed on Wednesday due to rampaging waters from rains dumped by Pedring.
Commuters now descend on a trail to the bank of the river using a foot trail, and cross the river at intervals using a bamboo overflow footbridge.
Others carrying heavier load, like porters of sacks of rice or liquefied petroleum tanks, must wade on the shallower portions of the river so as not to put added stress on the makeshift bridge.
“We have to immediately put up the bridge because our people are already paying an additional P30 just to cross the river,” said Orlando Sarol, the provincial engineer.
Balitang said they were closely monitoring prices of basic commodities amid fears that costs might escalate due to the closure of roads.
Power has been out in most of Ifugao since Pedring toppled power lines and trees on Tuesday. Restoration work by the Ifugao Electric Cooperative has been hampered when Quiel hit Saturday, officials said.
Even relief operations in hard-hit and isolated areas have been a major concern, Balitang said, as delivery of goods were being done on foot.
“Worse, we do not know what is happening in those areas because all our lines of communication with them are down,” he said.
Balitang on Monday authorized the use of all available resources to open all seven provincial roads that were closed by the typhoons, even as he admitted that they were in a dilemma over the use of the province’s allotted calamity fund.
“We are spending with closed fists right now because, given our meager funds, we cannot exhaust everything despite the extent of the damage because it is still October and we have not gotten through the typhoon season,” he said.
In a meeting with Balitang on Monday, Baguilat said they were not taking chances with a new weather disturbance that would likely develop into a storm by Wednesday and hit northern Luzon on Saturday.
“We have five days to rise and prepare for a third one,” Baguilat said.
He said roads in the province remain dangerous because of the possibility of landslides.
“[The possibility of] landslides is still there because of high volumes of runoff rainwater. So there are problems with the delivery of goods as well as the restoration of power here,” Baguilat said by telephone.
In Nueva Ecija, officials of the upland town of Carranglan appealed to national government agencies to help open access to the town proper that has been isolated for six days when a portion of a major bridge was destroyed by heavy rains.
Bernardo de Guzman, municipal engineer, said the breach in the bridge’s approach was 6 meters long and 1.52 meters deep.
He said town officials and residents were left to fend for themselves as his appeal for help to the national government remained unheeded. “They are not listening. We need to haul boulders to reconstruct the damaged approach to the bridge,” he said.
Six other villages in the town remained isolated because bridges there were destroyed by the typhoons, he said.
He said 25 houses were swept away by floods and about 500 hectares of farms with ready to harvest palay were damaged. With reports from Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon
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