80% of San Mateo, Rizal hit by floods

Posted at 09/28/09 7:15 PM

MANILA - Residents and local government officials from Rizal province have called for "outside help" in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy (international code name Ketsana) that battered the province on September 26.

"We can't support relief efforts on our own, so we need outside help. All people in the province are affected. Others have lost their homes but still help out in relief efforts. But what we need is help from others. Please help us because the situation is hard," said San Mateo municipal mayor Jose Rafael Diaz in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

Diaz - along with local government officials, members of the Philippine Army, and civilian volunteers - have been helping out at 15 makeshift evacuation centers and a medical mission station in front of the municipal hall since Saturday.

Relief efforts concentrated on distributing rice, sardines, noodles, used clothes, and other necessities to typhoon victims, but Diaz said more are in need of help.

The mayor said 80% of the municipality was submerged in floodwaters, affecting 19,524 families and 97,620 people (out of a total population of about 180,000).

There were also reported landslides in Sta. Barbara Villa Subdivision, Silangan, and Buntong Palay.

As of posting, there have already been 10 reported deaths, and hundreds more missing after the typhoon's onslaught.

Diaz fears that the death tally will rise, since 14 out of 15 baranggays have "sketchy" reports of the situation of their constituents.

"The municipality is prepared if at least if 2 or 3 barangays [are affected]. But every barangay was affected. We're never used to total annihilation. How can you help someone if the volunteers and rescuers themselves are in need? It's difficult," said Diaz, whose own house is knee-deep in water.

Residents hungry, fear looters

Residents in hard-hit areas like San Mateo municipality and Motalban are still reeling from the damage brought by Typhoon Ondoy.

In some areas of San Mateo, people were seen begging for food or money along major roads.

Most said they were unaware that there are nearby evacuation centers.

Wilma de Guzman, a resident in San Mateo, was seen begging for food and walking barefoot in mud-stained shorts and t-shirt, holding her equally disheveled daughter.

De Guzman's home was swept away along a river bank on Saturday, without warning.

She said she and her neighbors initially sought shelter near a chapel, but had to swim back in chest-high floodwaters to save her 3 children.

"Humihingi lang po kami ng tulong, kahit pagkain o matitirhan. Nagugutom na po mga anak ko (We are asking for help, even just food or shelter. My children are hungry)," she told ABS-CBN News.

Some San Mateo residents, like Alona Baltazar, could not leave for evacuation centers because of fear that their damaged homes would be looted.

Her neighbor, a laundrywoman, was sifting through the debris and looking for scrap wood or metal in order to build a makeshift "kubo" or shanty near her damaged home. 

The laundrywoman cried during an interview with ABS-CBN News, saying she worked hard for more than 10 years to build a home, only for it to disappear in a flash.

"Sana tumulong ka naman, Presidente! (I hope you help, President [Gloria Arroyo]," she said.

Relief efforts

Dela Costa Subdivision in Montalban, meanwhile, is still knee-deep in mud and debris.

Some subdivision residents who arrived home on late Sunday evening could not enter the village gates.

Many residents like Lea Cerso cried with worry over relatives and friends still trapped inside the subdivision. Cerso had left her 4-year-old child inside their home before she left for work.

Municipal officials later decided to use a dump truck to storm into the village gates and save those trapped on roofs or upper floors of their houses.

Before they were rescued, victims had been left for 12 hours without food or water.

Rescuers also found the dead body of an old man, as yet unidentified, who is suspected to have drowned in the flood.

Rescue teams in the area are reportedly continuing their efforts in saving Typhoon Ondoy victims.

Rizal Governor Casimiro Ynares III told dzMM radio earlier that over 37,570 families or 263,224 individuals in the province were affected in the storm.

He said 80 out of 188 villages in Rizal were badly affected. The province's death toll was 82, as of Sunday evening, with 45 people missing.

He said rescue operations are concentrated in Cainta, while relief operations are focused on areas like San Mateo, Montalban, and Cainta.

So far, Ynares said they have evacuated people in Antipolo, San Mateo, and Taytay. Report by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News.