[PHOTO - Residents line up for water delivered by a tanker in flood-hit Barangay Catmon, Malabon yesterday. EDD GUMBAN]

MANILA, AUGUST 13, 2012 (PHILSTAR) -  By Alexis Romero- Emergency relief officials and doctors were deployed to flood-devastated communities yesterday to prevent outbreaks of disease as the death toll jumped to 89.

While floods have gone down significantly around the Metro Manila, many areas in nearby provinces remained inundated as overflowing dams continued to release water, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

“As the waters receded, they left behind clogged pipelines and trash everywhere. Sanitation has emerged as a key problem,” Philippine Red Cross (PRC) secretary-general Gwendolyn Pang added.

“We have deployed health officers in evacuation centers and in flood-hit communities with the likelihood of diseases erupting,” she said.

The Red Cross put up large rubber bladder tanks for clean water, while local officials sent portable latrines to packed evacuation centers.

Food packs were also rushed to 769,999 people displaced by the floods that submerged about 80 percent of Metro Manila last week.

NDRRMC chief Benito Ramos said more than half were living in dire conditions in 948 evacuation centers, which are mostly schools and churches converted into temporary shelter areas.

“Many have returned to their homes as the waters subsided, but it is far from a normal situation,” Ramos said.

“We are trying to help them return to their normal lives with a massive clean-up operation. There is muck everywhere, and it would take some time.”

The Department of Health (DOH) said water purification tablets were being distributed, while mass immunizations were being carried out to prevent an outbreak of colds, flu and other diseases.

Of particular concern is a possible outbreak of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease caused by exposure to water contaminated by rat urine.

More than 3,300 people were infected and 249 died of the disease in the aftermath of similar flooding in 2009, the biggest casualty figure for leptospirosis in the world, health authorities said.

“Many may have escaped the floods, but many could still die from leptospirosis or other diseases,” Ramos said.

He said the number of people that perished in the floods caused by the monsoon rains climbed to 89 as of yesterday.

Increasing fatalities

The NDRRMC said 30 of the fatalities were from Metro Manila, six from Ilocos region, 15 from Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon), and one from Mimaropa (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan) region.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Central Luzon, meanwhile, recorded 37 fatalities in the region.

New fatalities were recorded in Ilocos region, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon province and Laguna.

Two persons from La Union identified as Jona Lago, 21, and Jessica Lago, 19, died after they were struck by lightning.

The bodies of a family of three who were swept by strong current while crossing a creek in Antipolo City Friday were recovered Saturday in different areas of Rizal province.

The victims were identified as Michelle Demafiles, 26, and her children, Veronica Mae, 5, and one-year-old John Henricks, residents of Phase 2 SKB Homes, Sitio Tanza 2, Barangay San Jose.

Four unidentified individuals from Pampanga died of drowning. In Batangas, a certain Camille Ostinado died after being hit by a fallen tree. A certain Ernesto Flores of Laguna died of drowning while a certain Leticia Cerce, 59, of Rizal died of heart attack.

The NDRRMC said areas in Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, SOCCSKSARGEN and Metro Manila have been placed under a state of calamity. Such declaration allows local governments to tap their respective calamity funds.

Areas that are now under state of calamity are Manila, Marikina, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Muntinlupa, San Juan, Pasig, Pasay, Caloocan, Pateros, Pangasinan, Zambales, Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, Abra de Ilog in Occidental Mindoro, Culion, El Nido, and Linapacan in Palawan and Kidapawan City, Aleosan and Kabacan in North Cotobato

The monsoon floods also left at least 10 persons injured and eight others missing.

The NDRRMC said the number of affected persons has breached three million.

The monsoon floods affected 3,067,500 people or 679,057 families in Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas and Metro Manila.

Of this, 768,989 people or 159,447 families were displaced.

The NDRRMC said 430,125 people or 92,093 families are still inside 948 evacuation centers nationwide. The rest of the displaced moved to the houses of their respective relatives and friends.

The monsoon floods also damaged a total of 8,428 houses in Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Western Visayas.

As of yesterday morning, the total cost of damage to infrastructure and agriculture has reached P604.63 million.

Of this, infrastructure accounted for P585 million while damage in agriculture totaled P19.56 million.

The situation in the flooded areas has started to normalize while the government steps up its relief and clean-up operations, the NDRRMC said.

Ramos said there are still floods in Obando, Hagonoy and Meycauayan in Bulacan and in some areas near rivers.

He said personnel from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and military reservists are conducting clean-up in Malabon and Valenzuela, both heavily hit by the bad weather.

The Department of Health and the Philippine Medical Association are also conducting medical missions in flooded areas, Ramos added.

Personnel from the Social Welfare department, NDRRMC and volunteers are also packing relief goods to be distributed to flood victims. Ramos said there is no shortage of relief goods as donations from various groups continue to pour in.

A total of 82 cities and municipalities in Metro Manila, Ilocos, Central Luzon and Calabarzon have been affected by severe flooding.

NDRRMC said flooding in Manila, Pasig and Navotas has already subsided. -With Non Alquitran, Ric Sapnu

'Helen' intensifies into storm, threatens Luzon By Dennis Carcamo The Philippine Star Updated August 13, 2012 11:57 AM 2 comments to this post

MANILA, Philippines - The state-run weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration on Monday raised signal number 1 in several provinces in Luzon as tropical depression "Helen" strengthened into a tropical storm, moving toward northern part of the country.

In its latest bulletin, PAGASA hoisted signal number 1 over Isabela, Kalinga, Apayao, Cagayan, Babuyan, Calayan and Batanes groups of Islands as of 11 a.m.

Tropical storm Helen was spotted 550 kilometers east northeast of Casiguran, Aurora, with maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kilometer per hour, moving west northwest at 13 kilometers per hour.

Meanwhile, as of 10 a.m. Monday, five major water reservoirs have opened their gates in anticipation of more rainfall.

According to PAGASA, one gate each in Angat, Ipo, and San Roque dams are now open while two gates each have been releasing water in Ambuklao and Binga dams.

More Rain

The new storm is forecast to dump more rain in flood-battered northern Philippines a week after nearly 100 people dies in a monsoon deluge that submerged half of the sprawling capital city.

Officials in Cavite province southwest of Manila closed schools in Rosario town Monday because of downpours, and rescuers began evacuating landslide-prone areas in Manila's suburban Quezon City.

The weather agency says Tropical Depression Helen is whirling over the Pacific Ocean. It's unlikely to hit land, but will bring heavy to intense monsoon rains.

More than 400,000 people fled their homes last week when floods swamped Manila and nearby provinces. Officials in Cavite province southwest of Manila closed schools in Rosario town Monday because of downpours, and rescuers began evacuating landslide-prone areas in Manila's suburban Quezon City. - With AP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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