TYPHOON Glenda, the first strong typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, shut down Metro Manila when it slammed into Luzon on Wednesday, leaving a trail of death and destruction and forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate.
At least 14 people were reported dead, two of them in Metro Manila. Some of the victims were crushed to death by falling trees and electric posts.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said three persons died in Cavite and three in Quezon—a pregnant mother and her two children who were killed when a wall collapsed on them while they were sleeping.
The NDRRMC added that 33,802 families were forced to evacuate nationwide.
Six areas were placed under a state of calamity—Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Cavite, Gumaca town (Quezon) and Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila).
The typhoon’s ferocious winds tore roofs off houses, overturned cars and ripped trees out of the ground in the megacity of Manila, as well as remote fishing villages hundreds of kilometers away.
Rammasun (Glenda’s international codename), which in Thai means “God of Thunder,” roared in from the Pacific Ocean with wind gusts of about 250 kilometers an hour and smashed into poor fishing communities on Tuesday night.
The eye of the storm just missed Manila, home to more than 12 million people, but the huge winds and bursts of heavy rain brought the city to a virtual standstill.
Power in many areas, including the business district of Makati City (Metro Manila), was cut just after dawn as branches were torn off trees and electricity lines snapped.
The winds also tore down shanty homes in slum areas where hundreds of thousands of people live along Manila Bay.
“Our house was destroyed and we lost many of our belongings,” housewife Dayang Bansuan said as she rested in a school that had been turned into an evacuation
center for people living in the coastal Manila slums.
“We fled our home just before dawn when the water started rising up to our ankles.
I was really frightened, they [neighbors]were saying the winds were getting stronger. They were telling us to evacuate.”
“I thought I was going to die. I went out to look for gasoline in case we needed to evacuate, but it was a mistake,” said tricycle driver Pedro Rojas, 35, as he nursed a cut head while sheltering at a town hall on the outskirts of Manila.
“My tricycle rolled over twice after I slammed into sheets of rain. It was like hitting a wall… huge tin roofings were flying everywhere.”
In Malacañang, President Benigno Aquino 3rd ordered the swift clearing and recovery operations in areas affected by the typhoon.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino directed the NDRRMC and its local councils to expedite its operations “to ensure an early return to normalcy.”
Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson said there was minimal flooding in Metro Manila.
Coloma said teams from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority “worked round the clock to clear major roads of debris and fallen electric and cable posts.”
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada also dispatched 26 trucks to clear roads of toppled trees.
The typhoon brought little rain in the city but powerful winds toppled trees and power lines that caused blackouts.
Coloma said the Department of Trade and Industry fielded teams to ensure that prices of basic goods remain stable.
In Albay, Gov. Joey Salceda canceled classes until Friday to allow workers to repair damaged schools.
The typhoon also triggered floods in Boac, Marinduque, and in Occidental Mindoro.
Thousands of passengers were stranded in various ports in Manila, Bicol Region, Southern Tagalog, Western Visayas and Eastern Visayas.
Glenda was the first major storm since Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated the eastern islands of Samar and Leyte in November last year, killing up to 7,300 people in one of the Philippines’ worst natural disasters.
Those areas felt only light rain and winds on Tuesday and Wednesday but that was enough to send panic through some survivors who are still struggling to rebuild their communities.
“I feared we were going to relive our nightmare, when we had to swim for our lives,” said fisherman Alfredo Cojas, 49, who left his shanty home in the Leyte capital of Tacloban City on Tuesday for an evacuation center.
“This typhoon wasn’t that strong, but we have a phobia about these things now.”
At least 10 road sections and one bridge were destroyed when Glenda hit some areas in Luzon and Visayas on Wednesday.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said they deployed personnel and equipment to continuously monitor the situation and double their time working in restoring mobility of the affected areas.
In a situational report released by the DPWH on July 16, at 3 p.m., three road sections in Central Luzon were closed to traffic due to flooding and muddy road; five road sections in Southern Tagalog Region (Calabarzon) particularly Batangas closed to traffic due to flooding, landslides/rockslides and fallen trees and one collapsed bridge along city road Batangas City; one road section in Mindoro Occidental closed to traffic due flooding; and one road section closed to traffic in Bicol Region because of fallen trees.
In Central Luzon, the Aurora-Nueva Ecija Road was damaged caused by swelling of Cabatangan River to a height of 1.5 meters to 2 meters and at Km 192+000 due to landslides. The Layac-Balanga-Mariveles Port Road, Lalawigan Section, in Samal, Bataan was 4 feet underwater and not passable to light vehicles; and the Baliwag-Candaba-Santa Ana Road, Barangay San Agustin Candaba Section in Pampanga was not passable due to muddy road sections.
In Batangas, the Calumpang Bridge at Batangas City Road collapsed while the following roads were not passable: Lemery-Taal Diversion Road due to 0.50 meter floodwaters; Lobo-Malabrigo Road at Km 160+000 due to rockslides; Batangas-Tabangco Road at Km 137+000 due to floodwaters; Lipa-Balete Road at Km84+465 due to fallen trees and utility poles; and Talisay-Laurel-Agoncillo Road at Km 101+850 due to fallen trees and landslides.
Mindoro West Coastal Road in Mindoro Occidental was not passable due to overtopping of water in Villabeck Spillway at Km 272+600 and Anahawin Spillway at Km 275+000.
Clearing operations are ongoing for the fallen trees that rendered Bacon-Sawanga-Pio Diaz Road not passable in Sorsogon.