‘Ulysses’ death toll now at 67; 12 still missing

Published November 15, 2020, 10:38 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

₱1.1-B damage in agriculture, ₱470-M in infrastructures

The death toll on typhoon “Ulysses” has increased to 67 based on the initial reports of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Sunday. 

OCD spokesman Mark Timbal said the Cagayan Valley Region has the biggest number of fatalities with 22, followed by Calabarzon (Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon) with 17, and Cordillera Administrative Region with 10. 

Rescuers get the stranded residents due to flashflood brought by Typhoon Ulysses at San Mateo, Rizal. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Bicol Region and Metro Manila have eight fatalities each while two people died in Central Luzon. 

Timbal said 12 people are still missing, eight of them in Bicol, three in Metro Manila, and one in Batangas. 

Damage to agriculture was pegged at ₱1.19 billion while ₱470 million worth of damage was reported in infrastructure. 

Timbal, however, said that the assessment is still ongoing. 

The latest assessment also revealed that a total of 25,852 houses were damaged in various parts of the country that were hit by typhoon “Ulysses,” he said. 

100,000 flee Cagayan Valley flood 

Almost 100,000 people, 85,000 of them in Cagayan and Isabela, were forced to flee their homes as a result of the massive flooding triggered by typhoon “Ulysses” in Region 2 or Cagayan Valley, the Philippine National Police reported Sunday. 

PNP spokesman Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said 50,326 persons, or 12,842 families, are currently staying in 1,288 evacuation centers in Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Batanes. 

Cagayan and Isabela have the most evacuees with 39,573 people (9,467 families) and 10,322 individuals (3,724 families), respectively. 

Usana said 44,266 persons were also displaced but are not staying in evacuation centers – 14,317 (4,118 families) of them are from Cagayan and 21,190 (5,921 families) from Isabela. 

“Those rescued and are staying outside of evacuation centers have actually been adopted by households with two or three stories. Those who were rescued are with bungalow-type houses,” said Usana.

“They were all accounted for and there were no casualties on their side. This is another proof of ‘bayanihan’ (community cooperation) of the local residents,” he added. 

The massive flooding, which submerged one-story houses, was blamed partly on the release of water from the Magat Dam. 

Quoting data from the ground, Usana said 23 people were reported killed in the region with five others missing. 

Fourteen died due to landslides in Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya while six people died of drowning in Cagayan, Isabela, and Quirino. 

Three people died of electrocution in Cagayan. Based on the latest PNP data, 167 barangays in Cagayan and 10 in Isabela remain flooded. 

Sixty-eight roads in Cagayan and 11 roads in Isabela remain impassable. 

Usana said 183 barangays remain flooded and 79 roads remain impassable in the region. Six landslides were reported in Cagayan Valley, two of them resulting in the death of 14 people. 

In Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya, 10 people were buried alive in a landslide at 2 a.m. last Nov. 12. 

In Cagayan, four people died in a landslide at the Asassi-Temblique boundary road in Baggao, Cagayan at around 11 a.m. last Nov. 12. 

PNP chief Police Gen. Debold Sinas assured there is no-let up in the conduct of rescue operations for trapped residents by the police. 

“In cooperation with the military and the Coast Guard, we assure the local residents of our continuous operations to rescue people at risk of flood,” said Sinas. 

Forty-three watercrafts were deployed in Cagayan and Isabela for rescue operations. 

₱2-B rice, seeds assistance 

Over ₱2 billion worth of rice, seeds, and fertilizer assistance will be given by the government to Region II or Cagayan Valley, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar. 

In situation briefing in Cagayan, Dar said the Department of Agriculture intends to provide agricultural inputs to help farmers recover from the damage left by the typhoons in the past few months. 

He informed President Duterte that Cagayan will receive ₱846 million worth of agricultural support while Isabela will get ₱986 million worth of aid. 

Around ₱148 million worth of agriculture support will be given to Nueva Vizcaya and another ₱96 million for Quirino. 

The DA assistance includes hybrid rice seeds, fertilizers, hybrid corn seeds, assorted vegetable seeds, poultry, goats, and ducks. 

Dar said the DA will also provide around ₱41 million worth of rice donations to Cagayan and Isabela. 

Of the donations approved by the National Food Authority (NFA), 14,500 bags of rice equivalent to ₱18 million will go to Cagayan while 18,5000 bags or worth ₱23 million will be given to Isabela. 

Duterte vows to restore normalcy in Cagayan President Duterte assured the people of Cagayan Valley that the government will work on restoring the flood-hit province to normalcy. 

“I want to personally assure our fellowmen here that government will continue its rescue operations until all affected families are saved,” he added. 

“To my countrymen here in Cagayan Valley, rest assured that we are working hard to rebuild your lives after this calamity,” he said. 

“We know your anguish and we will respond with urgency,” he added. 

The President said he was advised by former President Fidel Ramos that life must return to normal as soon as possible after a disaster. 

He said more than ₱1 million worth of assistance was provided to Region II by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), local government units (LGUs), and non-government organizations. 

Dams continue to release excess water 

From a total of seven gates that were open on Thursday, only one spillway gate remained open to release excess water from the Magat Dam reservoir in Isabela Sunday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). 

Based on the PAGASA’s monitoring, the water level of Magat Dam was at 192.22 meters as of 9 a.m. Sunday. 

One gate is still discharging water as its current level is still close to spilling level at 193 meters. 

PAGASA advised those living near river channels to stay vigilant. 

Ambuklao and Binga in Benguet also continue to release excess water as they are near their spilling levels at 752.0 meters and 575.0 meters, respectively. 

As of Sunday, the water levels of Ambuklao and Binga Dams were 751.89 meters and 574.20 meters, respectively. 

Two gates in Ambuklao and three gates in Binga Dam were opened to release excess water. 

The water coming from Ambuklao Dam will flow into the downstream Binga Dam. 

Low-lying communities near Binga Dam, particularly barangays Dalupirip and Tinongdan, were advised to take appropriate actions. 

Likewise, PAGASA said Angat and Ipo Dams in Bulacan still had two spillway gates each that are discharging water as of Sunday. 

Angat Dam’s water level remained above its 212-meter normal high water level recorded at 213.26 meters. 

Ipo Dam, is currently at 100.90 meters and getting close to its 101-meter spilling level. 

PAGASA advised residents of Norzagaray, Angat, San Rafael, Bustos, Baliuag, Pulilan, and Plaridel to take precautionary measures. 

Single gov’t entity to decide on release 

A single government entity must decide on the release of water from dams in times of typhoons and other natural calamities, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said Sunday. 

Año proposed the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) should approve the timely water release from reservoirs to prevent massive flooding during typhoons. 

At present, Año noted, various dam operators have their own protocols on the release of water from reservoirs. 

“We will propose na in times of calamities and typhoons, dapat may nagkocontrol diyan – sino at kailan bubuksan ang dam. Kasi kailangan before the bagyo, puwede na tayo magbukas. Lalo na kung mayroon tayong forecast kung gaano kalaki yung ulan na darating (We will propose in times of calamities and typhoons, there must be someone who will control, decide when to open the dams. Because before the onset of the storm, we can already open the gates especially if we have a forecast on the amount of rainfall),” he said. 

“I will propose na pag-usapan sa NDRRMC sa time of calamity at typhoon, ang NDRRMC ang magbibigay ng approval kung kailan magbukas at ilang gate para controlled natin (I will propose to discuss in the NDRRMC (meeting) that in time of calamity and typhoon, the NDRRMC will give the approval when the gates will be opened),” he said. 

PH storm-free this week 

The Philippines may remain storm-free throughout the week, a welcome respite from back-to-back tropical cyclones that caused one of the worst flooding in the country. 

PAGASA weather specialist Benison Estareja said Sunday there is a less likelihood of a low-pressure area or tropical cyclone formation in the coming week. 

As of Sunday, the northeast monsoon or “amihan” remains the prevailing weather system affecting Northern Luzon, he said. 

Estareja said the “amihan” may continue to bring light to moderate rains over Cagayan Valley. 

He warned residents in Cagayan and Isabela to remain vigilant as flooding and landslides are still possible in the region. 

Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Apayao may also experience isolated light monsoon rains. 

Estareja said warm weather remains in Metro Manila and the rest of the country but isolated rain showers or thunderstorms may still occur in the afternoon or evening. 

He said the warm and humid easterly winds may affect the eastern sections of Visayas and Mindanao, causing a high chance of rains in these areas. 

As sea travel remains risky, a gale warning remained in effect Sunday in some of the country’s seaboards due to strong to gale force winds associated with the surge of “amihan.” 

Rough to very rough seas may prevail over the northern seaboard of Northern Luzon, particularly over Batanes and the northern coasts of Cagayan and Babuyan Islands.