Typhoon claims 1 life; 2 towns declare ‘state of calamity’

Wenilyn Sabalo

ONE person died, while four persons were injured after typhoon Ursula struck northern Cebu, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019.

Responders of Danao City’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) retrieved the body of 31-year-old Jonathan Canggas, resident of Sitio Kamansi, Barangay Togonon, Danao City, in Awihao Dam Thursday morning, Dec. 26.

Rhee Telen of the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRMMO) said Canggas, a motorcycle-for-hire driver, was the first recorded casualty of typhoon Ursula in Cebu. He was reported missing Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 25.

Canggas was reportedly washed away by the strong current of a river in Barangay Togonon in Danao City.

“He left on Dec. 24 to go to his cousin’s house where he stayed until midnight. He insisted on going home even though they tried to stop him. According to his relatives, Canggas hopped on his motorcycle and drove away. They said there’s a river in the vicinity,” Telen said in Cebuano.

Authorities are still looking for Erickson Gimenez, who was reported missing in the town of Sta. Fe in Bantayan Island.

Telen said they also received reports that six fishermen in Sta. Fe went missing. However, they were found hours later.

“The fishermen had found a safe harbor where they waited out the storm,” he said in Cebuano.

Four persons were also injured during the onslaught of Ursula. Two are from Bantayan and two from Daanbantayan in the mainland.

More than 9,000 families, or around 50,000 individuals, were evacuated in northern Cebu: 8,886 families in Daanbantayan and more than 700 in Medellin. However, some of the families have returned to their homes on Thursday, Dec. 26.

The two adjacent towns have been placed under a state of calamity since Thursday afternoon, after they were considered to be hardest-hit by typhoon Ursula.

Placing a municipality under a state of calamity will allow the local government unit (LGU) to use its quick response funds to help survivors of calamities, based on needs and assessments of its communities.

Daanbantayan Mayor Sun Shimura said they were still clearing roads of felled trees and structures in various barangays.

He said strong winds and rain damaged the pier, the evacuation center, the Municipal Hall, several houses as well as 60 pumpboats.

As a result, some 50,000 individuals had to leave their homes.

He said they have P3.2 million in the calamity fund that they can use to help the survivors.

“We already declared a state of calamity. We will seek the assistance of the Provincial Government to repair the damaged infrastructure,” Shimura said in Cebuano.

Gemma Ma. Villamor, Medellin’s local disaster officer, said the typhoon damaged 1,116 houses and destroyed 36 houses in six barangays.

Several hectares of rice paddies and sugarcane plantations as well as fishing boats were also damaged.

Medellin Mayor Benjun Mondigo did not say how much the Municipality had left in its calamity fund, adding that they used the money to purchase equipment to prepare them for calamities.

He called on those who want to help to prioritize making sure that the survivors can return to their damaged homes. If they wish to donate, he said, lumber and galvanized iron sheets will be appreciated.

Telen said the PDRRMO and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines finished clearing the roads of Sogod, Medellin and Daanbantayan on Dec. 25. Electricity and telecommunication services were also restored in Bogo City, Pilar and San Francisco in Camotes Island and in Bantayan Island.

As of 4 p.m. on Dec. 26, Telen said the affected LGUs were still evaluating the damage to livelihood and infrastructure.

With the developments in Daanbantayan and Medellin, the PDRRMO is recommending to place the whole province under a state of calamity.

“Daanbantayan and Medellin have already declared a state of calamity. That is sufficient enough for the Province to declare a state of calamity in the whole province based on Republic Act (RA) 10121,” said PDRRMO Chief Neil Sanchez in Cebuano.

RA 10121, also known as “An Act Strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System, Providing for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan, Appropriating Funds, Therefor and Other Purposes,” was passed and approved on May 27, 2010 so “LGUs can better address its emergencies and hazards by mitigating its effect and preparing the communities to respond to it through capacity building activities and conduct of public information.”

According to the PDRRMO, 2,800 relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 were sent to the islands of Carnaza and Malapascua, which are also part of Daanbantayan, with the help of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District Central Visayas.

The brp Capones of the PCG 7 also conducted maritime surface patrol to help assess the effects of the typhoon.

The DSWD-Visayas Disaster Resource Center (VDRC) will also send 50,000 relief goods to Tacloban City in Leyte Province.

The DSWD-VDRC is a national sub-branch of DSWD that is in charge of supplying immediate goods to regions that are affected by disasters.

Each relief good package contains six kilos of rice, four cans of sardines, four cans of corned beef and six sachets of instant coffee.

Roger Dale Armecin, administrative officer of DSWD-VDRC, said they are willing to also send relief goods to northern Cebu as soon as they receive a request from the DSWD 7.

In Cebu City, a minor landslide occurred in Barangay Pulangbato on Tuesday, but no one was reported hurt. Barangay personnel were able to clear the road the next morning.

Although Cebu City was far from the eye of the storm, it was still placed under Signal No. 1.

Meanwhile, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, during his Christmas eve homily, urged the faithful to pray for typhoon survivors and help them by donating goods.

He was grateful that many braved the heavy rain and strong wind to attend the mass.

“To my beloved faithful, we have the right to say ‘Merry Christmas’ even though typhoon Ursula rages outside. We’re inspired that despite the rain, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is full of people attending mass. This only shows their faith. Despite what’s happening around them, their hearts are full of love for God,” Palma said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Palma, in an interview, said the Cebu Caritas, the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Cebu, will be reactivated to conduct relief operations for survivors of typhoon Ursula. (ANV / PJB, JJL, KFD)

DESTRUCTION. Damaged pumpboats dot the shores of Malapascua Island, which is part of Daanbantayan in northern Cebu. (Sunstar Photo / Allan Cuizon)

STORM AFTERMATH. Felled trees line many of the streets of Daanbantayan, one of the worst-hit towns in Cebu by typhoon Ursula. (Sunstar Photo / Allan Cuizon)