Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rehab teams deployed in ravaged Isabela towns

By Charlie Lagasca and Alexis Romero
The Philippine Star, Monday, 8 November 2010

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines – Amid the inclement weather, the 60-man “Amianan Recovery” team composed of sailors and Marines from the Navy finally reached Divilacan town, one of the three typhoon Juan-devastated Pacific coast towns of Isabela being prioritized for relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The said team aboard the BRP Dagupan City or LC 551 logistical support vessel brought along with them the equipment needed to conduct road clearing, create communication lines and conduct needed engineering assistance for the typhoon-hit coastal areas.

The task group was activated in the aftermath of typhoon Juan to alleviate the plight of residents who were heavily affected in the province, to help in road clearing, and to undertake other engineering assistance,” said Navy Col. Ariel Caculitan, acting director of the Naval Affairs Office.

The mission team, which also brought along with them 66 tons of relief goods, consists of 60-man rescue as well as medical, engineering and communication experts.

Besides Divilacan, the mission is also set to conduct relief and rehabilitation activities in the coastal towns of Palanan and Maconacon, whose power and communication facilities have yet to be normalized since typhoon Juan lashed through the province two weeks ago.

The typhoon, the worst to hit Isabela and the rest of the region in recent years, also brought severe damage to the towns’ road networks as well as school and residential buildings.

After a 10-day setback due to heavy rains, the relief mission finally arrived over the weekend at Aubarede Point in Divilacan town, instead of the usual landing in Palanan town.

The said rains had earlier caused the members of the mission to wait it out at Port Irene, Santa Ana, Cagayan, until the weather relatively cleared up.

Members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) and Mobile Group of the Philippine National Police have been dispatched in Isabela and Cagayan to assist families displaced and affected by floodings caused by heavy rains in the area.

PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. said SAF and Police MG were deployed to help families, who were forced to vacate their houses and live along the national road in Baggao, Amulung, Alcala, Iguig, Apad and Tuguegarao in Cagayan.

Over the weekend, Cruz said 500 barangays in 45 municipalities in six provinces in Cagayan Valley Region (Region 2), Central Luzon and Cordillera Region were affected by continuous heavy downpour.

More families affected

Cruz said the total number of families affected has increased from 67,459 families or 250,865 persons to 106,923 families or 417,318 persons.

Reports reaching Camp Crame showed authorities in the affected areas are checking the effect of the floodings to road sections and six bridges in Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino, Aurora and Apayao.

The collapsed portion of Mt. Musimos in Lubuagan, Kalinga resulted in an embankment and has impounded large volume of water.

Relatedly, agricultural damage caused by the massive flooding in Northern Luzon has exceeded P316 million, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said yesterday.

NDRRMC said as of 6 a.m. yesterday, agricultural losses in Cagayan region totaled P313.75 million, representing 30,092 hectares of palay and corn. On the other hand, damage to agriculture in Central Luzon hit P2.44 million and covered 78 hectares of rice, vegetable, fruit trees, and fishery. 

Based on these statistics, agricultural losses posted by regions affected by the flood totaled about P316.19 million  

NDRRMC said the death toll stayed at 13, majority of them killed in a landslide. Ten of these fatalities were from Cagayan, two from Central Luzon and one from Cordillera. Two people from Aurora province were injured while two others from Cagayan region are missing. 

NDRRMC said the number of affected families has risen to 106,923 or 417,318 persons. Of these, 2,517 families or 11,763 persons were brought inside 69 evacuation centers. NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said people are starting to return to their residents as the flood waters are starting to subside. 

The floods damaged 46 houses located in parts of Aurora, Cagayan, and Apayao. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Helen Flores

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