By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY (Updated November 12, 11:52 am) – The provinces of Apayao and Cagayan in Northern Luzon were put under the state of calamity following the extreme flooding and landslides brought by Typhoon Quiel (international name ‘Nakri’) over the week.
Officials of both local governments made the declaration on November 8, as they took casualties and widespread damage from raging floodwaters and landslides.
Apayao Governor Eleanor Bulut-Begtang made preventive steps on November 6, suspending classes in all levels in both private and public school in the afternoon. She also ordered the concerned offices to implement immediate preemptive and forced evacuations in identified risk areas.
Despite the early steps taken, the province had three deaths in the evening the following day. Officials reported that Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Tolentino “Butz” Mangalao and Police Cpl. Rommel Gumidam perished when a landslide buried the house where they took temporary shelter in Kabugao town.
Meanwhile, relatives found the remains of James Carag, the village treasurer of Karawagan, Kabugao, reported missing in November 7. The flood caused by the swelling Apayao River also drowned poultry and livestock in San Sebastian, Luna municipality.
As of November 10, Bulut-Begtang has lifted the class suspension order and handed the discretion to the mayors and school superintendents. The local government has yet to account for the total damage from the calamity as of posting.
In Cagayan, the Provincial Risk Reduction and Disaster Management office reported four deaths, one missing and 5,719 families affected by severe flooding in the northern part of the province. The total number of families affected accounts for more than 23,000 individuals, with 17,439 staying in 67 evacuation centers.
The Office of Civil Defense said that of the listed deaths, three were due to drowning and one to a landslide.
In some areas of Abulug and Allacapan towns, floodwater reached the roof of houses and school buildings. In the municipalities of Appari, Baggao, Ballesteros, Claveria, Gonzaga, Pamplona, Sanchez Mira, Sta. Ana and Sta. Praxedes, roads, and bridges are still unpassable.
According to the regional office of the Department of Agriculture, the flood destroyed a total of 2,006.15 hectares of crops affecting 1,637 farmers and their families. Of the area, 1,656.15 hectares were planted with rice and 350 hectares for high value crops. Initial estimated cost of damage for the agriculture sector is P286 million.
The Provincial Government said such extent of flooding happened for the first time.
Declaring of state of calamity allows LGUs to utilize their calamity funds and seek for additional budget for relief operations and rehabilitation of damages from the floods.
PAGASA declared more towns of Cagayan and Isabela provinces within reach of Cagayan River and tributaries are prone to flash floods as rainfall continues to date. # nordis.net / With reports from Joseph Gregorio and Nathaniel Fabian