THE official government count of the number of casualties from Typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu) has reached 35 while the number of people affected by the storm climbed to over a million, authorities said on Wednesday.
Storm signals were lifted as Lando weakened into a low pressure area (LPA) on Wednesday afternoon.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that about 1.1 million people have sought shelter in 512 evacuation centers spread from Ilocos down to the Bicol region, including Metro Manila.
Over 330,000 people have been taken in by relatives and friends, the NDRRMC said.
A total of 762 flooding incidents were recorded in Pangasinan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bulacan, Pampanga, Zambales, Cagayan and Benguet during the onslaught of the typhoon.
Nearly 7,000 houses were damaged by strong winds and floods while 540 were totally destroyed.
The towns of Candaba, San Luis and Arayat in Pampanga were placed under a state of calamity because of massive flooding brought by Typhoon Lando.
Based on the report from the Central Luzon Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), more areas in Pampanga are still flooded after floodwaters from neighboring Nueva Ecija cascaded, resulting in the overflowing of the Pampanga river.
In Candaba, 16 barangay (villages) remained submerged in floodwaters as high as 10 feet.
Thirteen villages in San Luis are still flooded up to seven feet deep while 15 villages in Arayat were also under water up to eight feet high.
A total of 81 barangay in Pampanga are still flooded.
The LPA was last tracked 120 kilometers southeast of Basco, Batanes, Aldczar Aurelio of
the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.
It may also dissipate within the next 24 hours, he added.
A tail-end of a cold front, however, is affecting extreme northern Luzon.
Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms will be experienced over the regions of Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley.
Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated thunderstorms will prevail over Metro Manila and the rest of the country.
Palace denies politicking
Malacañang also on Wednesday dismissed claims that there was politics involved in the distribution of relief goods to typhoon victims.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda was responding to Baler (Aurora) Mayor Nelianto Bihasa, who reportedly claimed that he did not receive relief goods from the administration’s 2016 candidates.
Lacierda pointed out that the relief goods distributed by Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and his running mate, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, were meant for the typhoon victims in Baler, not for their mayor.
Roxas and Robredo visited Baler on Tuesday.
“What is more important here? Is it to give the relief goods to the mayor or give the relief goods directly to the people,” Lacierda said in a briefing.
He noted that the Liberal Party media bureau released a photograph proving that Baler residents did receive relief goods from the LP candidates.
“Mayor Bihasa should clarify his statement if the relief goods did not pass through him because that’s not our problem. What is more important to us is the welfare of the people,” Lacierda said in Filipino.
“It is the people who should get the relief goods, not Mayor Bihasa.”
Bihasa is a member of the PDP-Laban.
“PDP-Laban is a coalition partner of the administration. Why does he have to add political color to something that should not concern politics?” Lacierda said.
Meanwhile, he maintained that the Aquino administration would help typhoon-hit areas regardless of political affiliation.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd is expected to visit Baler on Thursday to distribute relief goods to those affected by Typhoon Lando.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is studying the possibility of extending the voter registration period in areas affected by the typhoon.
“Given Typhoon Lando, we will look into it and we will see whether it merits a special extension only for regions that were affected… We are looking into that possibility of extending only for these regions,” said Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista in a news briefing on Tuesday.
He also noted that there were some local Comelec offices that suspended voter registrations because of the storm.
“We are talking about Regions 1, and 3. The state of their offices before Lando, they are already in a bad state,” Bautista said.
The poll body chief said they would be asking feedback from their Regional Election Directors (REDs) in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regarding the need to extend voter registration.
He added that they were not considering an extension of the registration for the rest of the country.
The ongoing nationwide registration is set to end on October 31.
The cost of damage to agriculture and infrastructure in areas devastated by Typhoon Lando in Central Luzon has soared to P5.86 billion, according to the RDRRMC.
It said of the total amount, agriculture suffered the biggest loss of about P5.63 billion.
Damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure was pegged at P229 million.
The agricultural losses covered rice, corn, high-value crops, fisheries and livestock in the region’s seven provinces, namely Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales.
The palay sector incurred the biggest damage.
It was P4.44 billion, according to initial reports but soared to P5.12 billion. This was followed by high-value crops from an initial report of P207.82 million to P461 million.
Damage to corn was pegged at P27 million, livestock at P17.93 million and fisheries, P2.46 million.
Nueva Ecija was the hardest hit province in the region with damage to agriculture estimated at P3.56 billion while damage to infrastructure was pegged at P48 million.
The rice sector in Nueva Ecija was heavily affected with an estimated loss of P3.47 billion, followed by high-value crops at P65.92 million, corn (P14 million), livestock (P3.66 million) and fisheries (P106,340).
The number of people killed in Pangasinan has risen to seven as the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) validated a report sent through a text message that four people, two of them infants, drowned while crossing a river in Sitio Barukong, Barangay Garita, Bani on Tuesday.
Six others were reported injured while 2,301 families comprising 8,661 individuals were evacuated from 46 barangay in 15 affected municipalities because of the wrath of Lando, which raged across the province from October 18 to 19.
Reported by the PDRRMC to the provincial board, the evacuation was Pangasinan’s basis in declaring a state of calamity for the whole province on Tuesday in a special session.
The declaration of state of calamity will enable the province and its 44 towns and cities to access 30 percent of their five percent calamity fund to be used as quick response fund, without the need for them to also declare their own state of calamity.
The PDRRMO member agencies were still conducting search and rescue operations for isolated individuals and families in 24 other barangay of Bugallon, Aguilar, Labrador, Infanta, Mabini and Mangatarem affected by flash foods as of Wednesda, but sought the military’s help because of the big number of people to be rescued.
Gov. Amado Espino Jr., who directed operations at the PDRRMO tactical operations center, clarified that the flash floods came from accumulated rain water in the mountains that cascaded, not from swelling of adjacent rivers.
The four drowning victims are Cristina Veloria, 58; Sixto Veloria, 59; Susana Cabana, 3; and Trisha Cabana, 1 year old, who were on board an outrigger (banca) that capsized.
Another infant, Jan Kerby Capena, died after their house was pinned down by a tree that fell in Barangay Ilog Malino in Bolinao.
The two others are Mauro Nuerong, 75, of Barangay Pampano, Mangatarem, who was pinned down by a santol tree, according to a report received by PDRRMO from the Department of Interior and Local Government; and Regina Sabangan, 80, of Barangay Bongato, Bayambang, who suffered acute head injury when he tripped while walking on slippery ground and banged her head.
The injured were Alejandro Castillo, 57; of Buayaen, Bayambang; Ariel Capena, 47,parents of Jan Kerby, of Ilog Malino, Bolinao; Ismeralda Capena, 57, of Ilog Malino, Bolinao; Ernesto Tenoso, 32, of Pantal, Manaoag; Roderick Macasieb, 35, of Pantal, Manaoag; and Gregorio de Guzman, 35, of Agno, Tayug.
The PDRRMO listed 68 other barangay that were flooded in nine towns, namely Bautista, Basista, Labrador, San Fabian, Tayug, Calasiao, Santa Barbara, Rosales and Bayambang.
As of Wednesday, evacuation was still continuing as floodwaters were rising in Santa Barbara, Calasiao and Dagupan City because of continuous swelling of the Sinocalan River.
Residents of Barangay Bued, Quesban and other areas in Calasiao blamed the rising flood in their villages to a washed out dike in Barangay Alibago, Santa Barbara.
San Roque Dam is spilling water downstream of the Agno River from its four gates that were opened at one-half meter each or two meters with an estimated discharge of 587 cubic meters per second in anticipation of heavy inflow from upstream.
All national roads and other major thoroughfares in Pangasinan are still passable except the Mangatarem national road from barangay Talogtog to Bugtong Bunao, Mabini-Burgos road, Caranglaan section; and the Urdaneta-Barangay Pinmaludpod-Calasiao road, which is not passable by all vehicles; and the Urdaneta-Barangay-Inamotan-Manaoag road (light vehicles).
The Central Pangasinan Electric Cooperative (Cenpelco) has restored power to at least 40 to 50 percent of its household consumers as it targets full restoration in all its service areas by Friday.
Rod Corpuz, Cenpelco general manager, said the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) started restoration of its sub-stations on Monday after the typhoon toppled its lines.
Corpuz said at least 200 poles needed to be transferred as the lines were damaged by trees while some poles were leaning or totally collapsed.
Residents of Calumpit (Bulacan) are moving their vehicles and valuables to higher ground as “backfloods” coming from Nueva Ecija and Pampanga began to flow back to the town and nearby Hagonoy.
Calumpit and Hagonoy are known as the perennial catch basins of “backfloods” everytime a strong typhoon hits Central Luzon.
As early 2 a.m. Wednesday, the floods began submerging villages in this coastal town, according to Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) officer Liz Mungcal.
“The first report was that the floods were up to leg high but after two hours, it went up to knee deep, then up to the waist now in Barangay Santo Nino,” Mungcal said.
She added that Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado has ordered deployment of rescue teams to help stranded residents and move them to safer ground.
As of 9 a.m., at least 27 villages were already submerged under 2 to 4 feet of rising flood waters, Mungcal said.
Two villages in Hagonoy–Santo Niño and San Juan–were also submerged under two feet of rising floods.
Portions of Macarthur Highway, particularly from Barangay Iba-o-Este, were closed to vehicular traffic because of rising floods.
Mungcal said Calumpit Mayor Jesse de Jesus has requested the Manila Electric Co. to cut off power in the flood-stricken villages.