Ursula leaves trail of destruction

AS TYPHOON Ursula pummeled towns and cities in northern Cebu with strong winds and heavy rains on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2019 and Christmas Day, December 25, more than 65,000 people were reported to have been affected by the storm that toppled power lines, houses and trees in 14 local government units (LGUs), the Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Central Visayas said.

A five-year-old boy from the town of Medellin also died on Thursday, December 26 after he was electrocuted by a live wire in the course of road clearing operations, according to provincial disaster officials.

“In terms of fatality, we have one from Danao City who was washed away by the strong current of a river last December 24. This morning, when we went to Medellin, there was another report but I cannot consider it a fatality of Ursula because the typhoon already passed,” said Neil Sanchez, chief of the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) in a mix of Cebuano and English.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, December 27, search and retrieval operations for a certain Erickson Gimenez, a 19-year-old boatman from Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island, were also still ongoing, Sanchez added.

The PDRRMO reported that thousands of families suffered damage to their homes in the cities of Bogo and Danao and the municipalities of Poro, Pilar, San Francisco, Tudela, Carmen, Sogod, Daanbantayan, Medellin, San Remigio, Madridejos, Bantayan and Sta. Fe.

In Daanbantayan alone, which reportedly suffered the brunt of the typhoon, more than 6,000 homes were destroyedwhile another 9,765 houses were damaged based on latest results of an ocular inspection conducted by Daanbantayan Mayor Sun Shimura, Friday.

Medellin Mayor Joven Mondigo Jr. also reported that 2,542 houses were damaged in his town while 98 were destroyed.

A state of calamity was declared in Daanbantayan and Medellin by the towns’ local councils prompting Sanchez to recommend to Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to declare the entire Cebu Province under a state of calamity.

“If we follow the guidelines, two LGUs already declared a state of calamity. That’s Medellin and Daanbantayan. I received a report at noontime that Sta. Fe is also waiting to declare a state of calamity,” Sanchez said.

“Nevertheless, two municipalities are already sufficient for the province to declare a state of calamity. But I already gave my recommendation so that she can declare it if deemed necessary,” said he, adding that this was subject to the approval of the Provincial Board.

Reports from other towns and cities had yet to arrive at the Cebu Provincial Capitol as of last night.

Placing a municipality or city under a state of calamity will allow the LGU to use its quick response funds to help survivors based on their needs and the assessment of its communities.

No state of calamity

For her part, the governor saw no need to declare a state of calamity for the entire province.

Garcia said declaring the entire province under a state of calamity even though only a few towns were heavily affected by the typhoon might send the wrong signal, especially to tourists visiting Cebu.

She said the twin declarations of a state of calamity in Medellin and Daanbantayan were enough for the two towns to access their respective calamity funds.

“Let’s confine it first. We might be sending the wrong signal also to the rest of the country and internationally. It could affect our tourism as well,” Garcia said.

The governor inspected the two towns on Friday to assess damage.

Based on her talk with local officials, the affected structures were mostly covered courts, local disaster management offices and homes whose roofs were blown off by the strong winds.

Some municipal and barangay roads were also rendered impassable as trees felled by typhoon Ursula had yet to be removed.

Garcia said she will ask the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to help repair roads affected by the typhoon.

Following her visit to the two towns, she assured local officials that they will be provided with financial aid to help in the recovery process.

“We are assessing the number of houses that are partially damaged and those that are totally damaged and we are considering downloading assistance both to Medellin and Daanbantayan so they could spend the amount in accordance with the urgency of the need,” the governor said.

Aside from monetary assistance, Garcia said she is coordinating with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to send relief aid for affected residents of the two towns.

Meanwhile, Daanbantayan has P3.9 million under its Quick Response Funds (QRF) available for victims of the typhoon, according to Mayor Shimura.

The Daanbantayan municipal government has started to buy relief goods, makeshift tents and housing materials to help affected families recover from the calamity.

In Medellin, officials have started disbursing the town’s P2.5 million QRF to provide emergency assistance to residents.

Power transmission lines in Daanbantayan and Medellin that were knocked down by the strong typhoon are expected to be restored on Saturday, December 28, following ongoing repairs.

On Sunday, December 29, Garcia is expected to visit the islands of Carnaza and Malapascua in Daanbantayan; and Kinatarcan Island in Sta. Fe town to assess damage wrought by the typhoon in those areas.

OCD-Central Visayas Operations Chief Allen Cabaron said that majority of those affected by typhoon Ursula had returned to their homes on Christmas Day.

There was no reported damage in Negros Oriental even though five cities namely: Canlaon, Guihulngan, Jimalalud, La Libertad, and Vallehermoso were hit by the typhoon, said Cabaron.

Bohol and Siquijor also had no reports of damage to life and property.

“So far, negative. If ever there was damage, it was minimal, just trees. There were no houses or individuals affected,” said Cabaron in Cebuano.


Meanwhile, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Central Visayas recorded more than P18 million in estimated damage to the fisheries sector as of 6:42 p.m., Thursday for Bogo City and the towns of Asturias, Bantayan, Sta. Fe, Compostela, Daanbantayan, Medellin, San Remigio, Tabogon and Borbon in northern Cebu.

Among the damage recorded by BFAR were those on motorized and non-motorized boats, paddle boats, fishing boats, seaweed farms, oyster farms, fish pens, fish cages and marker bouys in marine protected areas.

Around 800 square meters of multi-species hatcheries in Barangay Kawit, Medellin worth P1.2 million were also damaged.

Aside from the hatcheries, around 8.85 hectares of “guso” or seaweed plantations were also reported damaged in Bogo City and the towns of Bantayan, Daanbantayan, Medellin and San Remigio .

BFAR-Central Visayas spokesperson Alma Saavedra said an estimated 255 fishermen living in northern Cebu were affected by typhoon Ursula, based on the agency’s initial damage report.

The Cebu City Government will send relief goods to Daanbantayan and Medellin on Saturday for more than 3,000 families affected by the typhoon.

Along with employees of the Department of Social Welfare and Services, Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and the Office of the Mayor, Mayor Edgardo Labella will distribute bottled water, rice, housing materials and tents. (WBS, ANV, HBL, PAC, JCT/RHB)