The province’s leaders have appealed for help from the national government following widespread devastation wrought by supertyphoon “Rolly” which made landfall along the Baras-Bato boundary and smashed through Virac in the early morning of Nov. 1, 2020.
In a meeting with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional director Arnel Garcia at the capitol last Monday, Nov. 2, Governor Joseph C. Cua and Congressman Hector S. Sanchez urged the national government to send food packs, roofing material and funds for Food-for-Work programs.
The chief executive told Dir. Garcia, who was with other officials from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Philippine Army that arrived on board a helicopter, that the province has only P1.7 million left in the Quick Response Fund (QRF) of the 5% Calamity Fund as majority has been spent in the COVID-19 response.
Garcia disclosed that his office is transporting to the island 3,000 food packs and 1,000 rolls of laminated sacks with each roll good for one household.
He added that the 2,000 food packs earlier sent by the DSWD for Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) in Catanduanes can be used in the relief distribution.
“Sa commitment namin, sir, wag kang mag-alala dun,” he stressed.
The director cited an OCD estimate based on their aerial survey of the capital town that 65 percent of houses made of light materials were destroyed while 35% of those made of concrete were made unlivable for now.
With President Rodrigo Duterte slated to make an aerial survey of Albay that Monday afternoon, the DSWD official said that the OCD will make the proposal for funding the Food-for-Work program that would pay typhoon victims for clearing debris in their barangays.
The fund will be handled by the municipal governments, Garcia bared.
He also suggested that to enable the immediate replenishment of the QRF, the provincial government should declare a state of calamity as soon as possible.
In response, Cua requested the director to provide the island with an additional 10,000 food packs as 3,000 packs would be good for three barangays.
“We were not expecting this kind of typhoon which is stronger than Rosing which hit the island in 1995,” the governor stated. “I believe its winds were more than 300 kph based on my experience.”
He said that a 40-footer container van with loaded material was blown by the Rolly’s winds up over a perimeter fence, landing some 100 meters away.
Cua and Sanchez were at the capitol together with members of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and personnel from the Catanduanes police when the supertyphoon blasted its way across the southern part of the island last Sunday, a week after typhoon Quinta brushed by with 120-kph winds.
During the meeting of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) presided over by Gov. Cua, with the congressman by his side, a resolution recommending the declaration of a state of calamity was formally approved.
The signed copy was immediately sent to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan where Vice Governor Shirley A. Abundo and the provincial board members were already on standby to pass the required SP resolution.
𝙄𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙞𝙖𝙡 𝙙𝙖𝙢𝙖𝙜𝙚 𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩
The initial report on the supertyphoon’s damage to lives and properties was rendered by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Catanduanes chapter, which deployed five teams to as far as they could reach once the wind died down by 11 A.M. of Nov. 1.
In the towns of Virac, San Andres and Bato, the teams observed substantial damage to houses, crops, power lines, trees and buildings, with roads are passable only to motorcycles as toppled trees and downed electric posts blocked roads.
A total of 7,368 families consisting of 28,729 persons were affected by the supertyphoon in the three municipalities, the report stated.
There is no power supply all over the province, it added, and there is no water supply, with people mostly dependent on artesian well and deep wells.
Government and private hospitals were operating even in the height of Rolly but some have sustained damage and are now only accepting consultations and minor surgery, the Red Cross said.
There is no Smart and Globe reception all over the province, with PRC – Catanduanes Chapter having the only operational satellite phone in the entire island, it revealed.
“The provincial government was only able to communicate outside through the PRC satellite phone,” it added.
Initial data in the Rapid Damage And Needs Assessment (RDANA) in the three towns showed that a total of 2,623 houses were destroyed while another 3,202 were partially destroyed, with many more villages and the other eight towns yet to submit reports to the EOC.
The damaged homes are in Virac (833 destroyed, 1,264 partially), Bato (1,066 destroyed, 1,185 partially) and San Andres (724 destroyed, 723 partially).
Casualties as of the morning of Nov. 2 stood at four dead and one missing, all but one of them victims of drowning in raging floods.
In Virac, Mario Jacob, 49, and his daughter Michaela Jacob, 20, reportedly left their homes in the ricefields beside Gogon Centro but were dragged away by the current.
Michaela’s body was discovered the following morning near the riverbank at the marketsite after the floodwaters receded, with her head wedged under a rock. Her father remains missing and is presumed dead.
Danilo Barba Jr., 35, left the evacuation center and reportedly went to his house at sitio Pulang Lupa but also drowned in the rising water.
In San Miguel, Angelo Torrenueva of District 2 was hit in the chest by a fallen tree and died instantly while Sancho Panza of District 3 went missing after being carried away by the flooded river. A body believed to be Panza’s was recovered along the shore of Cabugao Bay.
8 𝙩𝙤𝙬𝙣𝙨 𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙑𝙞𝙧𝙖𝙘
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Catanduanes Engineering District reported that the road links to the eastern towns were rendered impassable by landslides at Balongbong, Bato, as well as fallen trees at Kilometer 29 of the circumferential road.
However, District Engineer Gil Augustus Balmadrid said that the portion of the CCR from Paraiso, San Miguel to Libod, Pandan and down to Manambrag, San Andres is passable to all types of vehicles despite landslides and fallen trees at intermittent sections.
On the eastern side of the island, the secondary national road from Bato to Baras, Gigmoto and Viga has yet to be assessed due to numerous fallen posts and trees, the DPWH said.
It asked the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) to remove the posts in order to fast-track the clearing of the highways.
General Manager Raul Zafe said an initial estimate shows that 50% of electric poles have been downed, affecting 90 percent of its distribution lines, with restoration efforts to take as long as two months.
The rehabilitation time could be shortened if his request for other cooperatives to send at least five teams for a rehab task force is approved.
Upon the suggestion of the district engineer, the FICELCO manager agreed to train personnel from the DPWH and MDRRMOs of the towns in the proper removal of transformers, power lines and other attachments from fallen electric poles to hasten the clearing of roads after a typhoon.
The cooperative earlier came under fire from Cong. Sanchez for its failure to immediately respond to the calamity hours after the storm.
GM Zafe defended the linemen, who he said are rank-and-file personnel who had to attend to the damage sustained by their own homes and to provide first for their families after the typhoon.
For his part, Virac Water District general manager Gabriel Tejerero said water supply in its covered barangays could be restored within three days, especially if assisted by other personnel.
He reported that the three pipes were damaged at the Padurog source while the Cauayan intake tank was blocked by a huge volume of debris. VIWAD personnel are already on site to replace the damaged pipes and remove the debris.
PNP provincial director Col. Brian Castillo told the council that the northern towns of Caramoran and Pandan appear to have survived the supertyphoon unscathed.
The Eastern Bicol Medical Center remains operational despite the closure of its unroofed morgue, according to hospital chief Dr. Vietrez Abella in an interview with the Tribune, with nurses and other personnel on duty asked to extend their time to wait for their replacements.
On the other hand, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) said that for the estimated 82,157 affected individuals, it has only 2,450 food packs available, which was
subsequently distributed to four barangays in Virac, including Ibong Sapa, San Vicente, Capilihan and Francia.
Dr. Hazel Palmes informed that the Provincial Health Office (PHO) monitored a case of food poisoning that victimized 10 members of a family.
A source told the Tribune that the victims cooked a dead chicken found outside just after the typhoon and ate it for supper, with the members brought to the hospital early in the morning of Nov. 2.
With regards to damage to agriculture, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist said that it was slated to start assessment on Nov. 3 but agreed with the estimate of the governor that the cost could reach as high as P400 million.
Like the OPAg, the Provincial Engineering Office has yet to submit an initial report on damage to provincial roads, bridges and buildings.
The Department of Health provincial office reported that it has yet to receive reports from the field, except for Virac where an isolation facility was destroyed, damaging PPEs and other equipment.
PAGASA Virac officer-in-charge Juan Pantino Jr. reported that a high pressure area forced then tropical storm Rolly on a downward curve towards the island, with storm signal number 5 declared for Catanduanes at 2:30 A.M.
It was approaching the Bato-Baras boundary at 4 A.M. where it made its first landfall an hour late before cutting through to Virac.
The last reading it received from its radar equipment showed gusts of 280 kph before it went silent. They later learned that Rolly’s winds knocked off the big radome from its pedestal.
Pantino expressed hope that the government of Japan would give the weather agency another grant for the repair of the radar station at Buenavista, Bato. Weather observations would have to come from the Virac synoptic station in San Isidro Village where, the Tribune learned, the wind vane was knocked off its pole in the early morning of Nov. 1 with its last reading showing the wind gusts at 136 kph.