Thousands of people displaced by floods triggered by tropical storm Mario (Fung-Wong) returned to their mud-caked homes on Saturday, as the death toll from the disaster rose and damage to infrastructure unfolded.
“We have no choice but to come back. We can’t afford to rent an apartment,” butcher’s wife Lovi Barbosa, 35, said as she attempted to remove dirt from the floor of her home near a still swollen creek.
She said she and her five children, aged between two and 10, spent a sleepless night sitting on the cold floor outside a tire repair shop because the local school was already full of similarly displaced neighbors.
Three weeks’ worth of rain swamped the region on Friday, state meteorologists said, as the eye of the relatively weak storm brushed past the northern tip of the main island of Luzon, more than 400 kilometers away.
The state weather service said Fung-Wong was forecast to hit Taiwan on Sunday.
Many of the areas hardest hit by floods, such as Barbosa’s neighborhood, are shantytowns illegally occupying the banks of rivers and other waterways.
“Generally, the floods have already subsided. People are starting to return to their homes,” Alexander Pama, executive director of the disaster council, said on Saturday.
The storm itself caused power outages across northern Luzon, while rough seas left a small ferry off the central port of Cebu badly damaged on Friday, Pama added.
Navy rescuers along with nearby commercial ships retrieved 31 people from the stricken vessel, Philippine Navy spokeswoman Commander Marineth Domingo told Agence France-Presse.
Caught by surprise
In La Union, six villages in Luna town were submerged in flood.
Residents said they did not know that a storm was coming and thus were not able to make preparations.
Two persons were declared missing.
“We were surprised because it was not announced on radio or TV that we have a typhoon, only monsoon rains,” Amante Nadora, chief barangay guard of Salcedo, Luna, told The Manila Times.
Luna Mayor Vic Marron said they had to evacuate residents from Barangays Napaset, Rimos 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, Nagrebcan, Salcedo, Rissing and Barangobong.
AFP with a report from William Jun Garcia