P67-M damage caused by “Usman” floods, 89 landslides
posted 13-Jan-2019  ·  
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Only one person was hurt in the widespread flooding and at least 89 landslides triggered by tropical depression “Usman” last Dec. 28-29, 2018, which caused at least P67 million in damage to infrastructure and crops, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) informed last week.

The lone casualty, however, is not yet included in the latest situation report of the PDRRMO as it is still awaiting the official report from its counterpart in Caramoran town.

The report prepared by LDRRMO V Jerry Beo stated that three residential houses were destroyed in sitio Otsenta, barangay Sabloyon, Caramoran when the wooden structures were carried away by a landslide on the mountain where they were located.

It was in one of the houses where one Inday Sapanta “rode” the landslide that deposited the house on the creek below, with the old woman injuring her thigh in the process. She was rescued by her son who saw the entire incident with his own eyes.

All three families who occupied the houses lost everything, including their clothes, prompting the provincial government to send 10 GI roofing sheets for each family as well as relief goods and donated clothes. The office of Mayor Agnes Popa also sent assistance to the victims.

In Osmeña, Baras, two families staying at their mountainside houses also escaped death last week, having evacuated to safer ground.

MDRRMO-designate Rogelio Tendencia had warned the families to leave the unstable area, with the landslide occurring a few minutes after the evacuation.

The office of Governor Joseph Cua and the PDRRMO gave food packs and 10 GI sheets each to the affected families, represented by Maria Gacelle Timuat and Julie Trapago.

In all, the storm and subsequent low pressure area displaced a total of 343 families consisting of 1,526 persons in the town of Bato and affected 1,456 residents in Bagamanoc, Pandan, Panganiban, San Andres, San Miguel and Virac. Relief operations have been conducted to deliver food packs to 514 families in Bato, Pandan and Virac.

The landslides and flooding blocked major routes in same towns as well as in Caramoran, with the DPWH Catanduanes Engineering District deploying payloaders and other heavy equipment to clear the roads before the New Year began.

According to the same report, eight landslides and rockslides as well as heavy flooding caused damage to provincial roads, bridges, river control structures and box culverts in the amount of P13.3 million.

The island’s rice production sustained a heavy toll, with 3,517 hectares swamped, while 57 hectares of high-value commercial crops and vegetables were also damaged. Together with several missing carabaos and 10 destroyed fishing bancas, the cost to agriculture and fisheries came up to just over P12 million.

Circum road blocked by 81 ‘slides

The inclement weather that persisted for two days triggered at least 81 landslides and rockslides along the Catanduanes Circumferential Road linking most of the island’s 11 towns, the Bato-Baras-Gigmoto-Viga national secondary road, and the Panganiban-Sabloyon road.

According to the tentative report being prepared by the DPWH Maintenance Section headed by Engr. Samuel Tabuzo for submission to District Engineer Gil Augustus Balmadrid, 16 landslides and two rockslides along the highway from Virac to Pandan temporarily blocked vehicular traffic to the north.

Thirty landslides occurred along the Virac-San Miguel-Viga-Panganiban-Bagamanoc-Pandan route while another 31 dropped along the winding route from Bato to Baras, Gigmoto and Viga towns.

The DPWH estimated the total cost of landslide removal and restoration, as well as the repair of a damaged embankment, slope protection and flood control structure, at the amount of P42.3 million. This figure does not include the cost of removing other landslides along the Panganiban-Sabloyon road which DPWH engineers have yet to fully inspect.

State of calamity declared in Catanduanes

The extent of damage caused by “Usman” prompted the PDRRM Council headed by Gov. Cua to recommend to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan the declaration of a state of calamity through an urgent resolution. However, the lack of quorum due to the New Year celebration postponed the provincial board’s consideration and approval of the measure to Jan. 3, 2019.

The office of Vice Gov. Shirley Abundo transmitted the copy of the resolution to the governor’s office the following day, with the chief executive signing his approval last Friday.

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