December 22, 2021
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) ravaged most of this Palawan capital and northern areas of the province over the weekend, leaving an unprecedented damage to life and property, with its full extent yet to be determined due to downed power and communication lines and transportation problem.
Jerry Alili, Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief, said the initial report estimated that the typhoon damaged between 70 percent and 80 percent of infrastructure, both public and private property, in northern Palawan.
He said the towns of Roxas, Araceli and San Vicente were the worst hit.
With power and communication lines throughout the mainland still down as of Tuesday, the province remains isolated and information filtering through the capital Puerto Princesa City is sparse.
Reports as of Tuesday, indicated that at least 22 people had been confirmed dead while some 15,675 families had been displaced.
Vic Lagera, Roxas municipal administrator, said 15 people had been confirmed dead while 16 remained missing from their town as of Dec. 19.
Roxas, some 130 kilometers north of this city where Odette made landfall Friday night, appears to be the most hard hit, based on initial reports from the local government.
In Puerto Princesa, disaster risk reduction authorities confirmed seven fatalities, including a 3-month-old baby girl and 6-year-old boy who drowned in Irawan River. At least 31 people had been reported missing throughout Palawan.
Federico Villar Jr., acting general manager of Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco), said 12 major transmission lines were toppled by Odette’s 185-km-per-hour wind.
Call for aid
Paleco could not say when power would be fully restored in the province.Communications towers and eight fiber optic lines of major telecommunication companies servicing the province were damaged, making mobile phone, landline and online communication difficult,Ten villages in Puerto Princesa were flooded last week after rivers overflowed.
Road access to northern Palawan was cut off with four major bridges—Maoyon, Concepcion, Babuyan and Langogan—destroyed by the typhoon.
Palawan residents are appealing for donations, particularly food, drinking water and medicines. At least 11 water supply sources in Puerto Princesa were destroyed.
Many find it difficult to look for food as many grocery and variety stores are closed. Those who have the means to buy basic needs, however, cannot access their money from local banks.
El Nido volunteers
Some enterprising banca owners are charging P10,000 for a one-way trip to northern Palawan from this city, reports gathered by the Inquirer showed.
As of Tuesday, the situation in several island towns of Palawan could not be ascertained because communication lines were down and due to the lack of vehicles to bring inspection teams there.
In El Nido town, Uma Araneta, speaking as a volunteer for the newly formed “Odette Palawan Relief,” said the typhoon “has hit us hard.”
“Cell towers are dead, internet is gone, no water, no electricity, all barangays are damaged, many homes destroyed, many dead, 30+ and still counting … This isn’t a scene from a movie. This is reality,” Araneta said in a message sent to the Inquirer.
“Here in El Nido, most of us haven’t heard from our friends and family in Puerto Princesa since the storm hit … Due to multiple broken bridges, Puerto Princesa is now completely unreachable. It’s extremely chilling that the whole city has gone quiet,” she added.
According to Araneta, business owners and residents in El Nido are joining hands to extend help to worst-hit areas that can still be reached.
“Multiple restaurants here in El Nido are temporarily closing so they can send their teams to cook and support victims in the south. People are gathering supplies to donate. People are finding rides to get these supplies to those in need. No one’s effort is going unnoticed,” she said.
“We’re getting creative over here … El Nido’s horse stables are using their trailers, which are usually for transporting horses, to transport goods to damaged areas,” Araneta said.
She said people looking for information on the situation in El Nido and other areas in Palawan and those who wanted to donate in the relief drive could check @kidsforkidsph and @odettepalawanrelief on Instagram.