Eleven sections of the national highway in several towns were rendered impassable or hardly passable by landslides triggered by two days of heavy rains, which also caused flooding and isolated a few barangays.
With the rainfall on a 24-hour period beginning 8 A.M. Friday (Jan. 8, 2021) eclipsing the rains brought by typhoon Ulysses in November 2020, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported that landslides and mudslides blocked the national road at Dariao in Caramoran, Paniquihan and Bagong Sirang in Baras, Lubas and Puting Baybay in San Andres, Nursery in San Miguel, Bagumbayan in Bato, Biong and Dororian in Gigmoto, P. Vera (Summit) in Viga, and San Miguel in Panganiban.
The office of District Engineer Gil Augustus Balmadrid immediately dispatched several government-owned and private payloaders, two backhoes and dumptrucks to remove the obstructions but unsafe conditions forced the DPWH to halt all clearing works along the Bato-Baras-Gigmoto-Viga national secondary road.
At times, the report stated, roads made passable were rendered impassable just a few hours later by repeated landslides.
Aside from swamping drainage canals, the heavy rains also resulted to swollen rivers that isolated barangays Almojuela in Viga and San Vicente in Gigmoto. Part of the national highway in Baras town was turned into a swiftly flowing river at the height of the continuous downpour.
The weather improved by the afternoon of Jan. 9, with the now light drizzle allowing devotees of the Nazareno to join the two motorcades around town as well as the culminating Mass at the shrine in Cavinitan.
The latest DPWH situation report as of 12 noon of Jan. 10 stated that only the landslides at Dororian and Sioron remain in Gigmoto, with the latter still unsafe for clearing. Also impassable as of 6 A.M. of Jan. 10 was the national road at Nursery, San Miguel.
DE Balmadrid said the Sabloyon-Panganiban road section would take some time to be rendered passable as a road slip destroyed a section of the concrete highway, causing an estimated P8 million in damage.
The DPWH Catanduanes Engineering District is continuously monitoring the situation at flood- and landslide-prone areas, with its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) team placed on alert.
According to the Virac Synoptic Station of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in San Isidro Village, Virac, during the end of the first 24-hour period that ended at 8 A.M. of Jan. 8, it recorded total rainfall of 103.3 millimeters.
The next 24 hours ending on 8 A.M. of Jan. 9 dumped even more rain, totaling 177.9 mm, which is more than the 176.7 mm released during the passage of typhoon Ulysses just north of the island on Nov. 11, 2020.
The two-day total of 281.2 mm is already 40 percent of the 671.2 mm recorded by the Virac Synoptic Station for the entire month of December 2020.
For the first nine days of January this year, the total precipitation has reached 382.6mm which is more than half of the December rainfall.
According to the station’s record daily precipitation observations, it has rained every day since Dec. 29, 2020.