By Martin Sadongdong, Marie Tonette Marticio, and Minerva Newman
At least 13 new fatalities were recorded in Southern Luzon and Visayas islands due to tropical storm “Ursula” bringing the death toll to 41, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Sunday.
NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad said seven new fatalities were reported in Mimaropa (Region 4B) – five of which were in Oriental Mindoro, while two were in Occidental Mindoro.
Eastern Samar’s death count jumped to five on Saturday. Five persons also perished in Leyte, up from its previous list of two deaths.
In Aklan, there were three recorded deaths, higher than its previous record of two. Ursula’s damage to agriculture and infrastructure in Southern Luzon and the entire Visayas has ballooned to P1,074,292,945.
The agriculture industry in Region 6 continued to be the most affected as it suffered P595,300,804 worth of damages.
In Iloilo alone, farmers and fishermen lost over P168 million in its fisheries sector, P10.4 million in high-value crops, and more than P9 million in its rice produce.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7) reported an estimated P14.98-million damage to the fishery sector in Central Visayas with the seaweed (Guzo) farms in northern Cebu experiencing the most damage.
“About 8.5 hectares of Guzo farms on Bantayan Island, Daanbantayan, Medellin, and San Remigio towns and Bogo City were affected,” BFAR-7 regional information officer Alma Saavedra told Manila Bulletin.
He added that there were 119 motorized fishing boats and 12 bancas damaged by TS Ursula affecting about 255 fisher folks from the towns of Sta. Fe in Bantayan Island, Daanbantayan, Medellin, San Remigio, Tabogon, Compostela, Asturias, and Bogo City.
Saavedra added that BFAR’s Multi-Species Hatchery facility located at a coastal community in Barangay Kawit, Medellin, Cebu, was destroyed with an estimated damage at P1.2 million which was 90 percent of its structure.
NDRRMC spokesman Mark Timbal said they were hoping that there will be no more fatalities as all the affected regions have reported the extent of damage by Ursula in their areas.
“We’re hoping na hindi na madagdagan kasi nakapagreport na lahat ng regions ng mga status nila (We’re hoping that [the casualties] will no longer increase because all the regions have sent their reports about their status),” Timbal told the Manila Bulletin.
Timbal said they have yet to locate 12 people who went missing at the height of the cyclone early this week.
Of the missing, eight were recorded in Region 6, and two each in Mimaropa and Region 8.
“Continuing pa(Search and rescue operations are still continuing),” he said.
The number of injured persons also increased from two to 28 – 13 of which were in Region 6, 10 in Region 8, and five in Mimaropa.
Jalad said aid was continuously being provided to the affected regions to help residents recover from the devastation.
“Ursula” left the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Saturday morning.
Bleak New Year
CAIBIRAN, Biliran – It’s going to be a bleak New Year’s celebration for some 4,000 families here whose houses were washed out by storm surge and damaged by the pounding winds and heavy rains brought by Typhoon “Ursula” on Christmas Eve.
Some locals made makeshift houses from the debris in order to have a temporary shelter.
Allan Almen, 56, a father of 10 in Brgy. Victory, was trying to remove nails from the wood of his nephew’s house washed out by a 4-meter storm surge.
Brgy. Victory was one of the worst hit when “Ursula” landed in the adjacent town of Cabucgayan. Based on the local government unit’s initial assessment, 622 houses were damaged, while 130 were destroyed. Some sitios remain isolated because of a damaged footbridge.
Almen said he will use whatever he could salvage so he could make a temporary shelter for his children.
He earns around P100 daily from fishing and now that his boat was also destroyed, he said, it would be difficult for him to feed his family because they consume at least a ganta of rice a day.
Mayor Rhodessa Delante Revita said they have initially recorded P38 million worth of damaged houses in coastal areas and upstream villages.
They have an initial report of 3,300 damaged and over 500 destroyed houses in Brgys. Victory, Palengke, Asug, Binohangan, and Uson.
“The problem is that there are Yolanda victims who failed to receive housing units and they are staying in our evacuation centers in the meantime. We are still arranging that they be allowed to occupy empty units in the NHA’s Yolanda housing project,” Revita said.