Typhoon Santi inundates at least 50 villages in Laguna

October 31, 2009 11:34 am 

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Canlubang, Laguna –Waist-high floodwaters, triggered by heavy rains brought about by typhoon "Santi," inundated at least 50 villages in eight towns in Laguna early Saturday morning.

The floods that struck at about 3 a.m. Saturday also triggered an overflow of various rivers, destroying at least four bridges and displacing thousands of families.

Preliminary reports from the Laguna provincial disaster coordinatiang council, said three people were killed as Ramil whipped the province.

Rescue teams on Saturday afternoon rushed to flooded areas in at least three lakeshore towns.

Reports by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Laguna PDCC said floods also forced residents in Sta. Cruz town to clamber to the roofs of their houses as the Sta. Cruz River overflowed.

The rising waters also damaged the Sta. Cruz Bridge.

Reports said the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) have already sent rubber boats and helicopters to rescue stranded residents after Sta. Cruz town mayor Ariel Magcalas appealed for assistance on several radio stations.

“The river overflowed before dawn today. The floodwaters had gone down but many villages are flooded," Magcalas said adding that many of his constituents were still reeling from floods brought by tropical storm Ondoy last Sept. 26.

Magcalas said that waist-high floods brought about by typhpoon Santi inundated more than half of the 26 villages in Sta. Cruz town, sending many people to scale rooftops of their houses.

He also said rampaging waters from overflowed Sta. Cruz river destroyed the bridge leading to the town's public market.

”We were able to commence rescue operations only in mid-morning of Saturday since flood-swept logs blocked our way,” he said.

Magcalas is seeking national government’s help for his constituents, noting that ‘Santi’ worsened conditions in Sta. Cruz , which had not yet fully recovered from floodings that ensued when Laguna de Bay overflowed during storm ‘Ondoy’ last month.

Pagsanjan town mayor George Estregan Jr. also called for national government’s assistance as he reported waist-high floods submerged many areas in the town.

He attributed the flooding to “sudden release of dam water” during onslaught of ‘Santi.’ He did not identify the dam.

Estregan only said the water’s release was so sudden.

”I already declared a state of calamity in our town,” he said.

He said Pagsanjan authorities evacuated some 625 families from five villages to the town’s church and school.

Reports on Saturday morning further said Laguna province’s Majayjay town was also isolated since ‘Santi’ destroyed the three bridges leading to it.

The Police Regional Office (PRO4-A) also reported that roads in Los Baños town were impassable to light vehicles due to floods.

Electricity supply to several areas in Laguna was also cut off since 3 a.m. Saturday.

Meanwhile, a man was reported missing after his passenger jeepney was swept away by rampaging flood waters in Liliw, Laguna, before dawn Saturday, police said.

Vicente Tomazar, Calabarzon Regional Disaster Coordinating Council director, said the still unidentified man went back to his jeep to get some things after he evacuated his home, when the flash flood struck at 3 a.m. in Barangay Kanluran.

Tomazar also said bridges connecting the towns of Majayjay and Siniloan were damaged by landslides, making them impassable.

According to Board Member Neil Nocon, several villages were also flooded in Calamba City and the towns of Sta. Cruz, Bay, Victoria and Pila. He said several bridges in the province were also impassable.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jose Mendoza of Atimonan, Quezon province also reported neck-high flood submerged Bgy. San Isidro there, forcing residents to evacuate to the town’s public market.

He warned travelers against passing through Atimonan, noting that floods were expected to recede around Saturday afternoon.

”Travelers from Bicol and other areas are already stranded in Atimonan so I released part of our local fund to feed them,” he said.

National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC)chairman Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro called for implementing a wholistic multi-sectoral approach in addressing calamities in the country.

”It’s time we get into the nuts and bolts of the whole environmental issue of the country,” he said Saturday when typhoon ‘Santi’ swept across Luzon, toppling power lines, destroying properties and flooding several communities.

He raised such point amidst experts’ warning that climate change would continue exacerbating global weather conditions, resulting in disasters of unprecedented magnitude.

Teodoro agreed that local government units must enhance their capability to deal with disasters.

Government weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s 11 a.m. update on Saturday show ‘Santi’ was located in the vicinity of Lubang Island and moving towards the South China Sea.

As of 10 a.m. Saturday, the bureau spotted the howler’s center at 120 kilometers west south-west of Metro Manila.

’Santi’ packed mximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour (kph) near its center. It also sustained gustiness of up to 150 kph.

The agency expected ‘Santi’ to be over South China Sea by Sunday evening. (PNA)

rma/CJT and JCA/rsm

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