By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Typhoon “Odette” has totally ravaged the southern portion of Negros Occidental between Thursday night, December 16, and Friday morning, December 17, with more than a dozen people either dead or missing and causing millions of pesos worth of damages to agriculture and infrastructure.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson reported that more than 34,452 persons fled their homes and sought shelter in various evacuation centers across the province.
As of Saturday, the Provincial Disaster Management Program Division (PDMPD) reported that at least 1,395 homes were destroyed, while 6,321 suffered extensive damage.
Data released by the PDMPD also showed 28 fatalities, with at least 45 people reported missing in Sipalay City.
However, yesterday morning the number of missing individuals had dropped down to 15 after 30 of the missing were later found alive and well.
PDMPD said most of the fatalities were related to falling trees such as in San Carlos City wherein a 64-year-old grandfather was killed when a tree crashed down into his shack in the city’s Barangay 1.
In a separate incident, a 32-year-old security guard was also killed after he was hit by a large branch of a mango tree while he was on his way home in his motorcycle.
In the town of Manapla, a 70-year-old fisherman drowned while attempting to save his fishing boat during a storm surge.
At least 15 bodies were also recovered in Sipalay City alone.
Meanwhile, an initial report released by the PDMPD showed an estimated P475 million worth of damages to livestock and infrastructure, and another P87,209 in damages to the province’s crops.
The cities of Kabankalan and Sipalay and the town of Ilog were the hardest hit areas in southern Negros.
In Kabankalan City alone, the typhoon’s heavy rains caused flooding to at least 60 to 70 percent of the city.
Several families were also rescued from the rooftops of their homes by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) after getting trapped by rising flood waters.
Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) head, Dr. Renante Decena, they recorded at least P275 million worth of damage to broilers, P25 million to gamefowls, P50 million to layers, and P50 million in goats and cattles.
Massive blackouts were also recorded in most areas including Bacolod City, although power was already restored in some areas as of yesterday. Communications also went down in the province, and water supply in areas badly hit by the storm are also down.
Lacson is also expected to declare a “state of calamity” for the entire province today.
“We will be declaring a state of calamity for the whole province. This will be approved (by the Provincial Board)… What does this mean is, we can use the Quick Response Fund that the local government units can use to address the situation we are facing,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
Meanwhile, Lacson and Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer are calling for help for the victims of the typhoon and they have opened their respective offices in accepting relief supplies.
The victims of the typhoon are currently in need of food, clean drinking water, blankets, and sanitation kits.
Moreover, early yesterday morning, the PCG’s BRP Nueva Vizcaya (SARV-3502) left Muelle Loney Port in Iloilo City bound for Sipalay City.
The search and rescue vessel was carrying 11 additional Coast Guard District Western Visayas personnel, along with an official from the Office of Civil Defense in Region VI.
The ship also carried supplies consisting of 150 house repair kits, 30 shelter kits, 500 hygiene kits, 30 family kits, and a rubber boat with outboard engine.
The additional personnel will augment the ongoing search and rescue operation in the southern part of the province./DGB, WDJ