Death toll rises to 54
FIFTY-four people were killed and 40 were injured as Tropical Storm “Seniang” hit wide areas of the Visayas and Mindanao. Provinces and cities that experienced intense flooding included places devastated by Typhoon Ruby in December.
As reported by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) on Jan. 2, a total of 113,220 families or 525, 618 were affected by the typhoon. Death toll included 19 caused by flash floods.
NDRRMC Executive Director Alexander Pama confirmed that most of the casualties were from Samar, Leyte, Cebu and Bohol.
“A total of fifty-four (54) deaths were reported in Regions VII, VIII, X, XI, and CARAGA. Meanwhile, forty (40) were injured from Regions VI, VII, VIII, and CARAGA and seven (7) are still missing from Regions VII, VIII, X and CARAGA,” the NDRRMC bulletin stated.
“2,722 damaged houses (2,267 partially damaged and 455 totally damaged) were reported in Regions VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI and CARAGE,” it added.
Moreover, the agency estimated almost P5 million losses in Agriculuture, particularly in Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental and Compostela Valley.
National Highway in Misamis Oriental, Kibaluyot Bridge in Brgy. 19, and most parts of Gingoog City were said to be damaged by Seniang estimated to be worth P20 million.
Twenty-five roads and 19 bridges remain not passable in the affected areas.
Seniang brought heavy rains with less wind compared to Typhoon Ruby’s intensity.
Rivers overflowed towards roads and highways causing knee-deep floods, and in extreme cases, “neck-deep” floods.
PAGASA already lifted all storm signals in Mindanao but the weather bureau warned that it would still bring moderate to heavy rains.
It also warned residents living in low-lying and mountainous areas to prepare themselves, might as well evacuate, for possible flashfloods and landslides.
“Fisherfolk and those with small seacraft are advised not to venture out over the seaboards of Luzon, the Visayas and over the northern and eastern seaboards of Mindanao,” PAGASA reminded.
Thousands of travelers were left stranded as ships and planes were not allowed to leave their ports.
State of calamity
Misamis Oriental declared a state of calamity on Monday, Dec. 29. The provincial government evacuated at least 2,080 families or 8,951 individuals from their homes.
Authorities from Misamis Oriental requested for a rescue helicopter to evacuate 30 persons reportedly trapped on the roof of their homes in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan—an area not accessible even by means of rubber boats.
According to initial reports, houses and properties were severely damaged and swept away by floodwater in Tagaloan town.
Veruela in Agusan del Sur and Bohol also declared a State of Calamity.
Catbalogan Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan, defended the many casualties in her place, insisting that the national government failed to warn them of the possible onslaught of Seniang.
“We did not expect a deluge. We though the hill where the landslide hit was tough as rock,” Tan said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
“There was no evacuation, people were just advised to prepare for possible landslides,” she said. “We need to check communication systems to find out what went wrong.”
Tan claimed that the dozens of lives lost and hundreds of homes destroyed may have been avoided if there were accurate warnings from the concerned agencies.
Evacuees, on the other hand, slammed the government, revealing that they had no food, water and power supply for three days.
“In our first three days at the evacuation center, when we didn’t have water supply, we used floodwaters to wash our hands and to clean toilets. There were even times when we used it for bathing,” Jun Ytem, a resident of Barangay Golden Ribbon said, insisting that Butuan City Mayor Ferdiand Amante Jr. did not show up at the evacuation center.
“Worse, we also suffered hunger because relief goods were delivered late, plus there was also no power supply,” he added.
(With reports from NDRRMC.gov.ph, PhilStar.com, Rappler.com and ABS-CBNnews.com)
(LA Weekend January 3-6, 2015 Sec. A pg.1)