By Martin Sadongdong
Typhoon “Ursula” (international name: Phanfone), which left at least 50 people dead and affected over 2.1 million Filipinos, is turning out to be one of the most devastating typhoons to hit the country in 2019, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) disclosed on New Year’s Eve.
“We can say that it is [one of the most devastating typhoons to hit the Philippines in 2019],” NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal told the Manila Bulletin.
Ursula is the 21st typhoon to hit the country in 2019.
At least 522,460 families or 2,122,581 individuals have been affected by Ursula since it made landfall in the Philippines on December 24, 2019 until it left the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on December 28, 2019, according to NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad.
At present, 21,409 families or 84,909 individuals are still staying in evacuation centers, Jalad added.
Twenty-six persons died in Western Visayas (Region 6), 16 in Eastern Visayas (Region 8), seven in Mimaropa (Region 4B), and one in Central Visayas (Region 7). Most of the victims drowned at the height of the onslaught of Ursula.
Damage to agriculture and infrastructure was placed at P1.084 billion, destroying rice fields, corn produce, high-value crops, fisheries and livestock in Mimaropa, Bicol Region (Region 5), Regions 6, 7, and 8.
Meanwhile, at least 143 persons were injured due to various landslide incidents, flooding, fire, and capsizing of sea vessels.
Jalad said five persons remain missing, two of them were aboard fishing boats “Athan 3” and “Athan 4” which capsized in Barangay Caminawit, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro on Christmas Day.
Aside from that, 406,228 houses, 416 schools, 30 health facilities and 100 other public structures were damaged by the strong typhoon around the country.
Most of the areas where power outage occurred remain without electricity. Only 38 of the 153 cities and municipalities that experienced power outage had their electricity restored as of this writing.
The devastating effects of Ursula prompted at least 12 areas to declare a state of calamity.
These areas are:
Mimaropa (Region 4B)
- San Jose, Occidental Mindoro
- Kalibo, Aklan
- Malay, Aklan
- Libertad, Antique
- Pandan, Antique
- Sigma, Capiz
- Carles, Iloilo
- Concepcion, Iloilo
- Madridejos, Cebu
- Borongan, Eastern Samar
- Tacloban, Leyte
- Daram, Samar
Meanwhile, Timbal said that relief items were continuously being distributed to the affected families to help them ease the burden of having to welcome the New Year with their woeful condition.
“The NDRRMC will continue to provide assistance and support to our calamity-stricken countrymen up until such time that their communities get back on their feet,” he said.
“We remain ready to assist LGUs [local government units] attend to their constituents’ needs,” he added.