Disaster

‘Labuyo’ hammers N. Vizcaya

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–residents recounted the rude awakening they had on Monday dawn when typhoon “Labuyo” slammed northern Luzon, whopping winds and dousing rains that caused flooding in many areas.

The aftermath of the typhoon saw hundreds of families, especially those in riverside communities, forced out of their houses and scrambling to safer grounds as water rose in the early morning.

Many admitted they were uninformed and ill-prepared.

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ROLL CALL. On a roadside shed, village councilwoman Salvacion Orpiano prepares the list of residents in Busilac village in Bayombong town who were displaced by flashfloods on Monday morning, a few hours after the worst of typhoon “Labuyo” was felt in Nueva Vizcaya. Men and children watch the raging waters of Magat river. Photo by Melvin Gascon

In the farming village of Busilac in Bayombong, 16 families whose houses stood on the banks of the Magat river abandoned their huts when they sensed that the water was rising higher and faster than ever before.

“They only a few pairs of clothing, that’s all. Their houses, belongings, farm animals and their crops are all gone, swallowed by the river,” said village councilwoman Salvacion Orpiano, 58.

At a roadside shed, Orpiano listed down names of those heavily affected by the floods while villagers, who milled around and took shelter from the heavy rains, watched the raging flow of the swollen river in the distance.

“Let’s all hope relief goods will be forthcoming,” Orpiano said in the dialect, to which another man retorted: “Kagawad, you can take out the name of Junior. He caught a large snake this morning and is cooking it now so he won’t need any relief goods,” drawing laughter.

At a nearby sari-sari store, brothers Jonie and Jimmy Luminario were drinking gin with a few buddies, mostly farmers. He said his corn plantation was ready for harvest on Monday.

“I am so disheartened seeing how my corn get submerged. That was a good P50,000 that turned out into nothing,” Jonie said.

In Buenavista village, many of the estimated 160 riverside families who evacuated to an abandoned gasoline station on Monday morning quickly went back to their houses upon sensing that water has begun to subside by early afternoon.

“It’s quite frustrating, but we cannot also force them to stay put,” said Wilfredo Francisco, village chair.

A concrete shed near the Batu bridge in Magapuy village served as an evacuation center for eight families, taking cover from the structure’s concrete benches as “Labuyo’s” gusts pounded the area on Monday dawn.

“We just crept in the darkness and found our way to this shed when my husband noticed that water was rising and the wind was howling at around 4 a.m.,” said Ester Bayatan, 47, a mother of three.

Aside from their house and all belongings, the couple also lost their palay farm from where they were supposed to harvest about 300 cavans of their palay on Monday.

The evacuees said they did not know that there was a strong typhoon coming.

Seemingly caught similarly ill-prepared was the provincial disaster response and rehabilitation management council (PDRRMC) which held a hastily-called for meeting on Monday as “Labuyo” was already pounding the province with strong gusts and heavy rains.

“But all the members have put their respective sectors into action. Rescue teams are already on their way as we are getting many distress calls,” said Evaliza Agamata, PDRRMC action officer.

In a report, Senior Supt. Valfrie Tabian, police provincial director, said several landslides, overflowing rivers and flooding have caused closures of main roads in the province.

The national highway was closed at some portions in barangays Macate and Almaguer North in Bambang town, as well as the detour bridge in Santa Fe, but these became passable later in the day as floodwaters subsided.

Worst-affected were traders at the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal in Almaguer North, whose merchandize floated and got soaked and washed away by neck-deep flashfloods on Monday morning.

“We knew that there was a typhoon coming, but we never expected the flooding to be this bad,” said trader Marcelo Casaldo, 65.

The Nueva Vizcaya-Benguet road, however, was not passable due to a landslide in Barangay Quisit in Bokod town, Tabian said.

About 300 persons in Quezon town and 600 in Dupax Del Norte were brought to evcuation centers, the report added.

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