The third typhoon to hit the storm-battered Philippines in as many weeks caused major flooding in Metro Manila on Thursday, trapping people on rooftops and claiming at least six lives in other parts of the country.
CIVILIANS TO SAVE (Below) Members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force ferry civilians to safety on a flooded street in Nangka village, Marikina City. (Above) Photo taken by an unnamed resident of Marikina and released by Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd to reporters shows residents sitting on the rooftops of their flooded houses in a village in the city during Typhoon ‘Ulysses’ onslaught in Metro Manila on Nov. 12, 2020. PHOTOS FROM RUY MARTINEZ AND SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES
Typhoon “Ulysses” (international name: “Vamco”) whipped up winds of up to 155 kilometers per hour as it swept across Luzon after making landfall overnight.
Members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force ferry civilians to safety on a flooded street in Nangka village, Marikina City.
Authorities warned of landslides and potentially deadly storm surges along the coast.
Heavy rain effectively shut down Metro Manila and surrounding areas.
“A lot of places are submerged. Many people are crying for help,” said Rouel Santos, 53, a retired disaster officer in Rizal.
Santos said the flooding caused by Ulysses brought back memories of the devastating Typhoon “Ondoy” that hit in 2009 and claimed hundreds of lives.
An official from the country’s Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said rainfall dumped by Ulysses so far was “near the volume” during Ondoy, warning flooding could worsen as runoff from nearby mountains flowed into already swollen waterways.
Philippine Red Cross personnel used boats to rescue people stranded in their homes in Marikina City, where the water in some streets was up to shoulder height.
“The magnitude of what we’re experiencing now is comparable to Ondoy,” Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro told CNN Philippines.
“We have so many people who until now are stranded on their rooftops or trapped on the second floor of their houses. Some areas that were historically not flooded, such as the City Hall, are submerged,” he said.
Requests for help were “pouring in,” said Casiano Monilla, Civil Defense deputy administrator for operations.
He said many people had not heeded warnings to evacuate ahead of the typhoon, urging them to do so “while there’s still time.”
Schools, which have been empty since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, are being used as emergency shelters along with gymnasiums.
The Bicol Region, which Ulysses grazed before making landfall, was hit by powerful winds and heavy rain on Wednesday as the eye of the typhoon approached.
Bicol is still reeling from deadly typhoons “Quinta” and “Rolly,” which killed dozens of people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.
Swathes of Bicol remain without power and with only limited or no telecommunication services after Rolly — the most powerful typhoon so far this year — toppled power lines, flattened houses and flooded roads.
By Friday, Ulysses will have exited through Zambales and into the waters into the South China Sea, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.
The typhoon, with 130 kph winds and 160 kph gusts, was tracked Thursday afternoon 140 km west of Iba, Zambales, moving westward at 35 kph.
In Quezon province, typhoon-induced landslides killed at least four persons Wednesday night while 11 others were missing in a mining village.
Major Jesus Ventura, Quezon town police chief, identified one of the fatalities as Julie Ann Tanasa, 15, who was sleeping when a landslide smashed her house in Sitio Kinalabasa in Barangay Runruno.
Three more bodies were recovered in two other sitios of Runruno village.
Ten people were missing, but it could not be confirmed if they were buried by mudflows or had left the area before the landslide hit.
The OCD in Bicol reported two deaths, four missing and eight injured in landslides in Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.
The dead were identified as Avelino Cabanela, 68, of Barangay Bagasbas, Daet, Camarines Norte, and Salve Mangubat, 70, of Barangay Gabon, Talisay, also in Daet.
In Catanduanes, Gov. Joseph “Boboy” Cua said the province’s 11 towns that experienced Rolly’s wrath were flattened by Ulysses.
Several highways in Quezon were closed because of floods.
The town proper of Catanauan was flooded. In Infanta, Real and Gen. Makar towns, only the roofs of houses showed amid the floodwaters.
Floods also swamped low-lying areas in Bulacan and Pampanga.
The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Office (PDRRMO) of Bulacan reported that several barangay (villages) in San Miguel town were under 2 to 3 feet of floodwaters.
Also submerged were villages in Balagtas and Bocaue towns.
At least 300 families or 1,108 individuals were evacuated to 29 evacuation centers.
Floods also shut down the North Luzon Expressway, Bocaue, Sta. Rita Southbound Entry, Tabang Southbound Entry, Balagtas southbound entry and Marilao Northbound.
Three dams in Bulacan — Angat, Ipo and Bustos — opened their spillways to prevent the water from reaching dangerous levels.
Liz Mungcal, PDDRMO chief, said almost 20 towns out of 21 towns and three cities in Bulacan were without electricity after Ulysses’s fierce winds knocked down power lines and electric poles.
In Pampanga, 60 barangay were under 4 feet of floodwater.
In Cavite, 1,554 families or 5,353 individuals who fled their houses were staying in evacuation centers.
Overnight rain caused severe flooding in low lying areas of the province like Bacoor, Kawit, Noveleta, Cavite City, Rosario, Imus City and General Trias.
Almost 1.6 million customers of Meralco — mostly in Metro Manila — were without electricity.
In Metro Manila, 590,243 customers were without power; 588,937 in Bulacan; 224,988 in Cavite; 152,033 in Rizal; 16,964 in Laguna; 2,485 in Quezon; and 37 in Batangas.
The National Electrification Administration reported that electricity was cut off in parts of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pampanga.
The Department of Energy said 13 power plants in Luzon were affected by the typhoon.
In a virtual briefing Thursday, Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga did not specify when electricity will be fully restored.
Zaldarriaga told reporters: “Our primordial consideration at this point and our mission really is to restore power back at the soonest possible time.”
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Thursday called on other local government to lend assistance to Marikina City, which was severely devastated by Ulysses.
Danilo Lim, MMDA chairman and concurrent chairman of the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, said “the agency requests non-affected LGUs to extend assistance to other local government units like Marikina.”
Lim reported the MMDA has sent rubber boats, dump trucks and rescue teams to Marikina.
Mayor Teodoro, in a GMA News TV interview, thanked the local governments of Makati and Navotas for heeding their call for help.
He said Marikina has 50 rescue boats to save stranded families, but these were not enough.
Around 5,000 families were evacuated in the city, Teodoro said. Some 40,000 homes were either fully or partially flooded.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, the Marikina River’s level was 22.0 meters, higher than the 21.5 meters during the tropical storm Ondoy in 2009, according to Marikina Public Information Office.
Many areas in Manila were also flooded.
Roxas Boulevard was under knee-deep flood while in 15 other streets the flood was gutter-deep.
Manila evacuated 1,125 families consisting of 4,607 individuals from flood-prone and coastal communities.
OCD’s Monilla denied that the government was caught off guard by Ulysses.
“We were not caught flatfooted by this event,” he told a press briefing.
Monilla said some people did not follow the instructions of the LGUs to evacuate ahead of the typhoon.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said police and the military were helping in search and rescue operations in the areas affected by the typhoon.
The flooding was most severe in Marikina, and the towns of Montalban, San Mateo, and Cainta in Rizal, Año said.
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, ARLIE O. CALALO, LEANDER C. DOMINGO, RHAYDZ B. BARCIA, BELLY M. OTORDOZ, FREDERICK SILVERIO, DENNIS ABRINA, JORDEENE B. LAGARE, JOHN ERIC MENDOZA, DARWIN PESCO