Gener moves out of country, leaves 26 dead-A A +A
Friday, August 3, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- The seventh weather disturbance to hit the country this year has left the Philippine area of responsibility, leaving behind 26 people dead and thousands of families displaced.
Gener (international codename: Saola), which was located 560 kilometers north northwest of Basco, Batanes as of 10 p.m. Thursday, brought heavy rains, strong winds, and floods to several provinces in Northern Luzon and other parts of the country since last week. It was, however, downgraded into a tropical storm Thursday, after it weakened while moving out of the country.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in its 7 p.m. Thursday bulletin that a total of 73 incidents occurred in various regions due to continuous rains caused by Gener.
In these incidents, 101,844 families of 475,874 persons in 647 barangays or 106 municipalities in 30 provinces in the country were affected. Of this affected population, 44,489 families or 214,104 persons are currently served inside and outside evacuation centers, said the disaster council.
Twenty-six people were declared dead, with one of the latest fatalities identified as Efren Forawit of Barangay Demang, Sadang, Mt. Province. He died due to drowning.
The NDRRMC said aside from the deaths, four people were reported missing while 27 were injured.
Areas where heavy rains and flooding were reported, meanwhile, include Cagayan Valley, the Cordilleras, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan, and the rice-rich Central Luzon Plains.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) advised residents in these areas to be extra careful as Gener, although moving away from the country in a north northwest direction, will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon that will bring rains and moderate to strong winds over Luzon and Visayas.
As of Thursday night, public storm warning signal elsewhere was lowered. Pagasa said Gener is packing maximum sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 140 kph.
Estimated rainfall amount is still heavy, at 10 to 15 millimeters per hour, within Gener’s 600 kilometers diameter.
Heavy rains and flooding, for instance, were experienced in Metro Manila, where authorities sent crews collecting heaps of garbage and debris strewn across the capital.
Before nightfall Thursday, at least 48 trucks from the Metro Manila Development Authority had been filled to the brim with garbage raked up from Roxas Boulevard, which bore the principal shock when waters from the Manila Bay surged to the shoreline, causing thigh-deep floodwaters on the six-lane boulevard.
The floods, which inundated the stretch near the Rizal monument in Manila to the south end of the boulevard in Pasay City, had also forced the closure of the US Embassy near the sprawling Rizal Park.
In Pampanga, which has the low-lying Candaba swamps underneath the five-kilometer viaduct on the North Luzon Expressway to the Ilocos Region, nearly 160 villages in 11 towns and two cities – Angeles and the provincial capital of San Fernando – were submerged by floodwaters spawned by Gener.
Disaster Risk Reduction officials said up to four feet of floodwaters persisted in the 11 towns, making the areas an eerie sight of wide ocean from above.
Also in Pampanga, more than 1,014 hectares of agricultural lands -- already planted to rice last month -- had been submerged by floodwaters slowly finding their level into the Pampanga River and other water arteries.
Officials said, of the total affected agricultural lands, 665 hectares were destroyed while more than 349 were damaged.
In peso terms, it was not yet clear how much damage had been done on the agricultural tracts and produce.
Some roads leading to the provinces of Bataan and Zambales were no longer passable by buses as of Thursday, stranding thousands of passengers.
Apart from the destruction in agricultural lands and produce in the battered communities, education authorities also suspended classes in some parts of the metropolis, Zambales, Bulacan, Cavite and the mountainous province of Benguet.
While the sun briefly filtered through the clouds in Metro Manila Thursday, some areas continued to reel from the effects of the strong winds, rains and floodwaters.
Classes were also suspended by the authorities in Olongapo City, some towns in Cavite and Bataan, Baguio and other towns in Benguet which were under threat of mudslides.
Officials said several towns in Benguet – Tuba, Tublay, Kibungan, La Trinidad and Itogon – and parts of Baguio City are without electricity as is the entire province of Camiguin farther south of the capital.
The government, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, has initially allotted P43.82 million – with P4.77 million for standby and P39.04 million for relief supplies – for affected areas.
Due south of Manila, in Antique, 75 families were immediately evacuated in the capital town of San Jose, following the surge of rising tides and pounding rains.
Also in Benguet, the Ambuklao and the Binga dams continued to release water to ease the pressure, allowing the water from both dams to flow downstream to San Roque in Pangasinan, which had its waters still 7.46 meters lower than its normal high of 280 meters, according to officials.
Officials also maintained high alert on the status of La Mesa Dam in Quezon City, with its waters already near the spilling out level. (PNA/Sunnex)