August 25, 2022
MANILA — More than 3,600 families (12,127 people) from 149 villages in Cagayan province remained in evacuation centers on Wednesday following the onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Florita (international name: Ma-on), which was already outside the Philippine area of responsibility after battering northern Luzon for two days.
As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, “Florita” was 585 kilometers west of Calayan, Cagayan, packing a maximum sustained winds of 110 km per hour near the center with a gustiness of 135 kph, according to an advisory from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
Florita is expected to move west-northwestward toward the West Philippine Sea in the next 36 hours. By 8 p.m. Thursday night, it would already be within the vicinity of Guangxi, China, the weather bureau said.
As the weather improved, Gov. Manuel Mamba cautioned residents in low-lying and landslide-prone areas against the rush of water downstream, which could cause widespread flooding.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 17 villages in 10 Cagayan towns were still submerged in floodwater, which reached a foot deep in some areas, according to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).
Cagayan and nearby Isabela province have been experiencing widespread flooding during the rainy season as incessant rains, worsened by the southwest monsoon, could cause the Cagayan River, the longest and largest in the country, to breach its banks.
These provinces experienced their worst flooding in 40 years at the height of Typhoon “Ulysses” (Vamco) in November 2020 after 47,600 families (164,400 people) were affected by the floods and landslides, which also killed 29 people in Cagayan Valley.2 more fatalities
The death toll from Florita rose to four on Wednesday after a farmer in Kalinga province was struck by a falling tree and a public school teacher in Camarines Sur province drowned.
Police said Francis Bitanga, 56, a resident of Barangay Wagud in Kalinga’s Pinukpuk town, was pinned by a large tree during the heavy downpour. His body was recovered near a creek at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
In Camarines Sur’s Bato town, Romeo Sison Jr., a teacher at San Roque High School, was pushing a bicycle through knee-deep floodwater when he was swept away by a string current at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday.
The first two reported storm-related fatalities were Oliver Corpuz and his wife Myrna, both from Diffun, Quirino. The couple died after their bus tipped over while negotiating a slippery road in Naguilian, Isabela, on Tuesday.
Narciso Edillo, the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional director in Cagayan Valley, said an initial assessment showed that there was “minimal damage” to crops in the region.
But data from the Cagayan PDRRMO showed the initial cost of damage to agriculture in the province was pegged at P169 million. This covered 28,110 hectares of corn and rice farms in at least nine areas.
An initial report from the DA pegged the damage at P3.01 million, with the volume of production loss at 220 metric tons spanning 628 ha of agricultural land.
“Affected commodities include rice and high-value crops. These values are subject to validation. Additional damage and losses are expected in areas affected by Florita,” the DA said.
In Isabela, floodwater also damaged corn and rice farms in the towns of Cabagan and Tumauini.
Corn farmer Alex Viloria, 61, of Cabagan, said he would be forced to sell his rain-drenched crops at a low price if only to recoup his losses.Rosita Guzman, 61, another corn farmer in Cabagan, said she lost almost P100,000 to the floods.
According to Cagayan PDRRMO, at least nine bridges in Cagayan remained impassable as of Wednesday due to floods, while the discharge of excess water from Magat Dam had already been stopped.
In Baguio City, access to Camp 3 along Kennon Road in Baguio City was blocked by a landslide, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways. Also closed due to landslides were the Apayao-Ilocos Norte Road along Cabugao town in Apayao province, and the Tue section of the Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur Road.
In Central Luzon, at least 199 families remained in evacuation centers in the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Aurora, the Department of Social Welfare and Development regional office said.
As of Wednesday, 27 villages in Pampanga and 10 more in Zambales remained flooded.