More floating assets are needed in Cagayan Valley to expedite the search and rescue (SAR) operations in areas where massive flooding occurred due to Typhoon “Ulysses,” a civil defense official disclosed Saturday.
Ronald Villa, operations chief of the Office of Civil Defense in Cagayan Valley (OCD-2), said their SAR teams have been working round the clock to respond to requests for rescue from individuals who were trapped from their homes due to the continuous rise of floodwater.
“Isa sa mga priority namin ay floating assets kasi gamit na gamit na rin ‘yung different floating assets natin sa mga local government units. Karamihan ng local government units namin affected dahil ang weather disturbance namin hindi lang naman nagsimula kay Ulysses, tuluy-tuloy na ito since typhoon Nika tapos Pepito at super typhoon Rolly (One of our priorities is floating assets as the different floating assets of local government units are already in use. Most local government units are affected as the weather disturbance is not all about Ulyssess, it started with Typhoon Nika, then Pepito, and Super-typhoon Rolly),” Villa told the Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.
Villa, who was at the OCD Operations Center in Tuguegarao City when the Manila Bulletin spoke with him, described the situation in Cagayan Valley: “Massive flooding po, particularly in Tuguegarao na malaki po ang epekto ng baha. Sa Isabela po ay may response operations din po (It’s massive flooding, particularly in Tuguegarao. In Isabela, response operation is ongoing).”
The flooding supposedly worsened when Magat Dam was forced to open its seven gates to release water after it reached its spilling level. #CagayanValleyNeedsHelp trended on Twitter shortly after posts showing the effects of Ulysses in the region circulated in social media.
At least 17 people have been reported dead in Cagayan Valley, according to data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) as of 6 p.m. Friday.
But Villa assured that the OCD has enough manpower to respond to the calls of trapped residents. He, however, could not give the exact number of personnel they deployed for SAR operations as of this writing.
“Sa ngayon (as of now), we have enough manpower in terms of rescue from LGUs. Kumpleto naman ‘yan bawat LGUs ay mayroon kaming response teams (Each LGU has complete response teams),” he said.
Responders from national agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, and Bureau of Fire Protection, also deployed some personnel to augment the OCD’s force, he noted.
At present, there are more than 11,000 person who have been staying at evacuation centers across Cagayan Valley.
The breakdown of the figures is as follows: 964 families or 3,302 individuals in Cagayan; 2,340 families or 6,796 individuals in Isabela; 180 families or 574 individuals in Nueva Vizcaya; and 139 families or 428 individuals in Quirino.
Meanwhile, more than 17,800 persons also fled their homes but opted to stay with their relatives during the onslaught of Ulysses.
Of these, 3,592 families or 12,788 individuals were in Cagayan; 1,035 families or 3,907 individuals in Isabela; 354 families or 1,274 individuals were in Nueva Vizcaya; and 11 families or 48 persons in Quirino.
Villa appealed for food packs, drinking water, and other relief assistance for the thousands of evacuees across Cagayan Valley.
The Cagayan Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) is set to hold a meeting on Saturday morning to coordinate the response operations in the region, said Villa.