AT LEAST one person died in a massive flood that hit Northern Samar towns since Monday, November 20, 2023, authorities said on Wednesday, November 23.
The fatality was identified as alias Cabides, of legal age, and a resident of Barangay Ynaguingayan, Pambujan, Northern Samar.
Army troopers who conducted rescue operations on Tuesday said the victim was struck by a fallen tree caused by a landslide in the area.
"The rainfall that caused massive flooding in Northern Samar is the highest ever recorded in the Philippines. It is the result of the combined effects of monsoon rain and shear line, which brought rainfall even higher than the average for the month of November in the previous years,” said Dr. Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office in the nearby Bicol region, as he observed the flooding situation in Northern Samar.
“In fact, the amount of rainfall that occurred in just one day in Northern Samar was equivalent to the total rainfall for a span of six weeks,” added Daep, an expert in disaster management, in a statement.
Daep was known as the first disaster officer and the mastermind behind the blueprint that established a disaster management office under a local government unit, a first in Asia, according to the Northern Samar provincial government.
It said that Daep’s statement “illuminates the gravity of this natural calamity, prompting a call for immediate attention and support for the affected localities.”
The total number of evacuated families was 6,038, with 5,843 in Northern Samar and 195 in Eastern Samar.
The disaster units in Northern Samar towns also collaborated for the evacuation of thousands of students studying at the University of Eastern Philippines and other private schools in Catarman.
“The operation was carried out amidst challenging conditions, including road closures and flooding,” the Northern Samar provincial government said.
“Grateful for our amazing volunteers, officials and organizations who tirelessly support our evacuees. With around 3,000 seeking refuge at the gymnasium and the Sumoroy Hall, we've provided basic necessities, medical aid, and sanitary facilities. We're working hard to address any concerns and improve conditions,” said Northern Samar Governor Edwin Ongchuan.
“Let's rebuild their lives and communities once stability returns. Together, we'll overcome this adversity and emerge stronger as a community,” the governor added.
The Police Regional Office-Eastern Visayas, headed by Brigadier General Reynaldo Pawid, deployed relief and rescue personnel in the affected towns.
Jipapad Mayor Benjamin Ver said the volume of rain in his town was unexpected.
“It was raining hard for two days. We were shocked because for almost five hours the floodwater suddenly went up fast,” said Ver.
However, the mayor said they conducted preemptive evacuation, even using the church to accommodate other evacuees.
“We will wait for the water to subside before we can distribute the relief items to the other villages. But to those here in the town proper, we have prepositioned food packs and we have distributed them already,” he added.
The mayor also attributed the flooding to “climate change.”
“This is also due to climate change. We don’t expect this. Like last year, for one week we had three flooding incidents. Maybe because we now lack trees. We cannot anymore estimate the volume of water,” said Ver, as his town also served as “catch basin” for two surrounding and interconnected rivers from Northern Samar areas.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is expected to visit Northern Samar to personally see the situation in the affected areas. (SunStar Philippines)