DESPITE COSTLY DREDGINGS FLOOD WATERS RISE IN PAMPANGA TOWNS

Guagua, Pampanga, July 24, 2003 (Star)  Just a few weeks after President Arroyo visited this town to commend the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its dredging of the Guagua-Pasac River, residents of 20 barangays here found themselves dealing with rising floodwaters in the aftermath of typhoon "Harurot."

Loida Samonte, of the municipal disaster coordinating council, said floodwaters are about a few inches to two feet deep. Flooding in the town proper may reach one foot.

But Samonte reported no flood-related casualties or infrastructure damage.

The entire province experienced a power outage for hours starting noon last Tuesday. Electricity was restored five to seven hours later in the cities of Angeles and San Fernando, and the following morning in 19 municipalities.

Also flooded were the City of San Fernando and the towns of Macabebe, Masantol, Candaba, Sto. Tomas and Mexico, according to the provincial disaster coordinating council.

Schools and offices all over the province remained closed yesterday because of heavy rains.

Meanwhile, Evelyn Manalo, regional information officer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said 265 flood-stricken families in Cabanatuan City and seven other families in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija have sought refuge in evacuation centers.

After days of heavy rains last month, the President visited this town and inspected the DPWH’s dredging project in the Guagua-Pasac River, a major outlet of floodwaters into the Manila Bay. — Ding Cervantes

P1B lost to 'Harurot' (from MALAYA, July 24, 2003)

Typhoon "Harurot" destroyed an estimated P1.01 billion worth of crops, mainly in the corn-producing province of Isabela, Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo said yesterday.

"On corn, we expect about 160,000 hectares to be affected and we anticipate a production loss of at least 300,000 tons, maybe 400,000 tons," he said. "That's worth about P900 million."

Damage to unmilled rice in other provinces was estimated at 60,000 tons worth P100 million to P110 million, Lorenzo added.

He said the estimated damage to rice would not compel the country to buy more than the 1.07 million tons it projected it would import this year.

Lorenzo said in a press briefing in Malacañang that he has asked President Arroyo for a P134 million emergency budget to mitigate the effects of the typhoon on affected farms.

The funds would be used to provide farmers with certified seeds, fertilizers and other forms of assistance to help them cultivate new crops.

Lorenzo said the typhoon devastated almost half the corn crop of Isabela, although the damage to the ricefields in the province was minimal, as most of the farmers had finished harvesting their crops.

He said the country might need to import about 300,000 metric tons of corn to make up for the destruction in Isabela.

"Yung August to September production natin, okay pa ang corn requirements," Lorenzo said. "Pero baka makulangan tayo in October, so this may require importation that will come only in October."

After Cagayan Valley, the Cordillera Autonomous Region sustained the most damage from the typhoon, estimated at P610 million.

About 6,740 hectares of rice fields and 6,335 hectares of corn plantations in the region were destroyed by the typhoon.

In its bulletin yesterday afternoon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Harurot was expected to be out of the country's area of responsibility this morning.

Six people, including four high school students and an infant, were reported killed at the height of the typhoon Tuesday.

Vice Admiral Reuben Lista, commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard, said increased awareness of maritime safety rules among ship passengers and local officials was the reason there was no sea mishap during the height of the typhoon. The PCG had prohibited vessels of less than 500 tons from sailing.

The Metro Manila Development Authority yesterday deployed 2,000 metro aides to assist in the clean-up of uprooted trees, collapsed billboards/posters and garbage.

More villages in the South inundated (The Philippine Star 07/24/2003)

COTABATO CITY — Rampaging floodwaters, spawned by heavy rains, have swept through more farming communities in Central Mindanao, forcing 10,000 more villagers to evacuate to higher ground.

Officials of the adjoining towns of Midsayap, Libungan and Alamada, all in the first district of North Cotabato, said the flashfloods that hit low-lying areas in their respective areas swept away dozens of houses and destroyed some P30 million worth of palay and corn crops.

In Alamada alone, 33 houses along riverbanks were washed away, and some 2,000 hectares of ricefields and corn farms were inundated. — John Unson


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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