‘Nona’-isolated areas cry SOS
LUCENA CITY—Nearly a month after the onslaught of Typhoon “Nona” (international name: Melor), the remote village of Magsaysay in Infanta town in northern Quezon has remained isolated as government workers have yet to clear the landslide-damaged sections of the Marikina-Infanta Road, making the highway impassable to all kinds of vehicles.
Infanta Mayor Rodante Potes, in a letter dated Jan. 7 to the Department of Public Works and Highways-Quezon, appealed for help to clear the road and repair a concrete bridge in Sitio Querosip in Barangay Magsaysay.
Potes said at least 150 families are virtual prisoners in the village because of the isolation.
Salvador Salvana, Quezon DPWH first district engineer, on Wednesday said his office has sent equipment for clearing operations and requested additional heavy equipment from the DPWH’s main office in Manila.
Salvana said at least 30 sections of the Marikina-Infanta Road in Magsaysay had been hit by landslides.
This means at least a kilometer stretch of the highway is impassable. The damage was estimated to be worth P205 million, including the cost of the damage to the 41-meter bridge.
Salvana said Infanta town is accessible by another route, the old Manila-Infanta road passing through the town of Famy in Laguna and the Real-Infanta Highway.
The 110-km Marikina-Infanta Road stretches from Sumulong Highway in the provinces of Rizal and Laguna to Infanta, passing along the slopes of Sierra Madre. The highway, half of which is inside the territorial jurisdiction of Infanta, used to be the exit route for illegal loggers smuggling lumber from Sierra Madre.
Ron Crisostomo, Infanta disaster risk reduction management officer, said the local government has been bringing relief goods and medical assistance to isolated villagers in Sitios Querosip, Cacawayan and Quehipas of Magsaysay.
Relief teams, with the help of soldiers and volunteers, travel to the town of Sta. Maria in Laguna to get to the lone road nearest the isolated villagers and walk through mud and debris to reach the isolated areas.
Before Christmas, a military helicopter was used to bring relief goods to the victims.
Real and Infanta towns were hit by landslides after days of heavy rain spawned by Typhoon Nona, which made landfall in Samar and Sorsogon on Dec. 14 last year and crossed to Quezon two days later.
The landslide in Magsaysay caused a road accident that killed a female Army officer, 24-year-old Lt. Michelle Mae Delariarte.
Delariarte was on board an Asian utility vehicle (AUV) with three other soldiers that was traveling through Magsaysay in the evening of Dec. 16 when it was hit by rocks and soil falling down the mountains.
The AUV carrying Delariarte and the other soldiers turned turtle, killing Delariarte and injuring the other soldiers.
In Real town, Quezon province, four members of a family died when a landslide buried their house in Barangay Tanauan on Dec. 19.
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