Cagayan endures darkness after ‘Lawin’
TUGUEGARAO CITY—Still without electricity six days after Supertyphoon “Lawin” (international name: “Haima”) ravaged Cagayan Valley region, life in this Cagayan provincial capital, reputed to be the hottest city in the country with temperatures rising to 42 degrees Celsius, has become unbearable to most residents.
After power was cut off as a precautionary measure before Lawin hit land, high intensity winds prevented electricity to be restored due to toppled power lines not only here but also in the provinces of Isabela, Ilocos Norte, Kalinga and Apayao.
According to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Lawin uprooted or destroyed 192 electric posts in areas covering Cagayan, northern Isabela and Kalinga.
It has been six days after the supertyphoon crossed Cagayan province and officials here have been struggling to answer queries from weary residents as to when they could get electricity back.
Restoring power supply has become the government’s top concern primarily to get the economy running again.
Business establishments that operate using generator sets have been burdened by the additional fuel expenses, which they may end up passing on to their customers.
High demand has also led to a shortage of generator sets.
But power outages have made life doubly hard for evacuees like Soraya Usman, whose family of four remains stuck at a gymnasium that serves as an evacuation center here.
Usman said the temperature shift from the cold mornings to the sweltering afternoon heat inside the gym would soon take its toll on her eight-month-old daughter.
The administrators of the Tuguegarao International Airport have been swamped with complaints from passengers, who have endured the heat inside the terminal. The terminal’s air conditioner is powered by a single generator set.
Gov. Manuel Mamba said he would not know how long it would take for the NGCP and the electric cooperatives to bring back power. “What is even more glaring is that we have never heard anything from the National Electrification Administration since the typhoon struck. They have been missing in action,” he said.
Even the Office of Civil Defense in Cagayan Valley would not know when power services would be restored. On Monday, the NGCP, which manages the maintenance of main distribution lines that supply electricity to rural electric cooperatives, said it was set to restore power to lines servicing Tuguegarao City up to Cabagan town in Isabela.
Cagayan is serviced by two electric cooperatives: the Cagayan Electric Cooperative (Cagelco) I and II.
Cagelco I covers this city and the towns of Peñablanca, Rizal, Enrile, Iguig, Amulung, Alcala, Solana, Tuao, Piat, Amulung and Baggao. These areas suffered the brunt of Lawin when its 245 kilometer per hour winds snapped power lines and toppled electric posts.
Tito Lingan, Cagelco I general manager, said it may take at least a month before power would be restored on the backbone line of its franchise area.
The areas covered by Cagelco II may take about six weeks to reconnect, said general manager, Gaby Tordesillas. —WITH A REPORT FROM LEILANIE ADRIANO
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