Two weather disturbances dumped heavy rains and aggravated flooding in many areas in the country on Saturday.
Tropical depression Onyok which has weakened into a low pressure area and was last tracked in the vicinity of Makilala, North Cotabato. brought rains to the Visayas and Mindanao, according to the state weather bureau PAGASA while the northeast monsoon (amihan) winds blowing from the northeast brought rains to Luzon, which has yet to recover from last week’s onslaught of Typhoon Nona (international name: Melor).
Many areas in Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Bicol, Central Visayas and the Caraga region are still submerged in floods.
The death toll after a week of heavy rains has risen to 41 according to reports collated from national and local disaster monitoring agencies.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Saturday said the fatality count is officially at 34.
“Almost the entire Philippines is experiencing rains. More floods are possible,” state weather forecaster Robert Badrina said.
“We expect the rains to peak today (Saturday). The weather will start to improve tomorrow,” he said.
State of national calamity
President Benigno Aquino 3rd has declared a state of national calamity to “hasten the rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts,” according to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
The government will control prices of basic goods in affected areas, the statement read.
PAGASA issued a warning of up to 30 millimeters of rain per hour in Central Visayas (Cebu, Negros Oriental and Bohol). Residents were advised to be ready to evacuate from their homes.
The three Visayas islands, with a combined population of 7.4 million people, are home to major tourism, trading and agricultural hubs.
Close to 10,000 people were evacuated from the poor farming region of Caraga in Mindanao before Onyok, made landfall Friday night.
There were no immediate reports on the effects of the storm early Saturday.
In Luzon, 140,000 people displaced by Nona remained in evacuation centers.
The Metro Manila Development Authority suspended the Pasig River ferry operations due to bad weather after PAGASA raised the yellow rainfall alert over Metro Manila and nearby areas due to heavy rains brought on by the northeast monsoon.
Rampaging backfloods coming from Nueva Ecija and Pampanga continue to submerge 14 villages in the towns of Calumpit, Hagonoy, Pulilan and San Miguel, the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) reported on Saturday.
PDRRM officer Liz Mungcal, said that big volume of floodwaters cascaded in the low-lying villages of Bulusan (4 ft), Calizon (4 ft), Caniogan (1 to 2 ft), Frances (1 to 3 ft), Gatbuca (1to 3 ft), Gugo (1 ft), Meysulao (6 ft), San Jose (1 ft), San Miguel (1 to 3 ft), Sapang Bayn (5 ft) and Sta. Lucia (1 to 2 ft), all in Calumpit .
The village of Mandale in San Miguel town is under 2 to 3 feet; Barangay San Juan in Hagonoy is under 2 feet and Barangay Dulong Malabon in Pulilan under 2 feet.
Muncal said Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, who is personally supervising the relief and rescue operations at the Operations and Command Center of PDRRMO since Thursday morning, has requested additional trucks from the Philippine Army to ferry stranded people, relief goods, bottled water and medicines to the affected areas.
At least 13,791 families were affected by the backfloods, Mungcal added.
Damage to crops and infrastructure are is still being determined, she added.
Alvarado also told reporters that relief and rescue teams have also been deployed in Hagonoy in anticipation of the backfloods that will cascade there either Saturday or Sunday.
As of 6 a.m. Saturday, the water elevation at Angat dam was 213.29 meters (spilling level 212 meters); Ipo dam 100.53 (spilling level 101 meters) and 17.42 meters in Bustos dam (spilling level 17.70 meters).
In Agusan del Sur, large portions of the national highway were inundated after a nearby river burst its banks, regional civil defense officer Manuel Ochotorena said.
Another river in Davao del Norte also burst its banks, forcing residents out of their homes, provincial disaster officer Romulo Tagalo said.
DOH: Prevent diseases in evac centers
The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday advised those in evacuation centers to watch out for illnesses commonly contracted during the rainy season.
Health Secretary Janette Loreto Garin stressed the importance of keeping proper hygiene, especially if one has waded in floodwaters, to prevent the onset of fever, colds, coughs, and leptospirosis, among other diseases.
“The cold weather usually triggers respiratory problems unless appropriate preventive measures are taken, especially in areas affected by Typhoon Nona,” Garin said in a statement.
“People who are staying in evacuation centers are encouraged to wash their hands with clean soap and water before preparing food and before and after eating. Also, wash your hands after using the comfort room,” she added.
She also advised people to wear protective boots when walking in floods, especially if one has an exposed wound, and to immediately wash exposed body parts with clean water and soap to prevent leptospirosis.
In addition, the health chief recommended that mothers should breastfeed their infants and to properly sterilize water for drinking.
“It is also best that water is boiled for at least two minutes before drinking. Breastfeeding should be continued. Breastmilk is the best and safest food for babies,” she said.
“Take care of yourself and your family against changes in temperature. Children and adults may become vulnerable to cough, colds, and fever,” she added.
Red Cross appeals for donations
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) announced the launch of their donation drive for affected families and communities of typhoon “Nona”.
PRC made the announcement in view of the reports made by its assessment teams who went to the most affected provinces and reported extensive damages to public infrastructure, agriculture and housing.
“With Christmas just a week away, we want to reach out to more people in typhoon Nona affected areas to bring a bit of holiday cheer. The typhoon left many homeless or with damaged homes and livelihood, and Christmas may not be celebrated at all in the affected areas,” said PRC chairman Richard Gordon.
“Which is why we are appealing to the good hearts of our countrymen and even those in other countries to give whatever they can contribute to our humanitarian efforts for those who have been severely affected by typhoon Nona,” he added.
PRC continues its humanitarian operations in typhoon Nona hit areas with relief, rescue, social welfare, medical and health assistance.
The humanitarian organization started distributing ready-to-eat food packs and water bottles in Nueva Ecija.
Red Cross chapters also continue provision of hot meals in the provinces of Isabela, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Catanduanes, Masbate, occidental Mindoro and Nueva Ecija.
PRC Northern Samar chapter will be distributing food items on Saturday (December 19) to 275 families in barangay Daganas and 300 families in barangay Hinatad, both in the municipality of Catarman, Northern Samar.
“Rescue operations have been going on as well in Nueva Ecija where there was flooding in some areas. Our water, search and rescue teams were able to rescue 11 people in their flooded homes in Nueva Ecija,” Gordon said.
According to the latest PRC OpCen report as of 8 a.m. Friday, Typhoon “Nona” affected a total of 1,289,405 people in 83 municipalities across 13 provinces, namely: Northern Samar, Sorsogon, Albay-Legaspi, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Marinduque, Camarines Sur, Western Samar, Masbate, Nueva Ecija, Catanduanes, and Aurora.
To those who are interested to give donations to the survivors of typhoon Nona through the Philippine Red Cross, cash donations may be deposited in any of the following Philippine Red Cross bank accounts: BDO Peso Account – 00-453190938; BDO Dollar Account – 10-4530039482; Metrobank Peso Account – 151-7-1552434-2; and Metrobank Dollar Account – 151-2-15100218.
Donations may also be dropped off at the PRC Tower, 37 EDSA corner Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City, or in any PRC chapters nationwide. Donors may also call telephone numbers 790-2300 local 807 and 826.
WITH PNA AND AFP