Isabela province is in ruins

Posted at 10/19/2010 2:19 PM | Updated as of 10/19/2010 11:20 PM

Gawad Kalinga issues call for help


ISABELA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Many areas in the northern Philippine province of Isabela are in ruins.

Isabela bore the brunt of typhoon 'Juan' (international name, Megi) after the storm entered the province on Monday.

Office of Civil Defense Administrator Benito Ramos said that in many towns, nearly all houses and infrastructure have been damaged.

The devastation prompted the provincial government to place Isabela under a state of calamity so it can tap emergency funds.

ABS-CBN and DZMM correspondents in Isabela have reported that many people are lining up for food and water, and scores of people are now literally living on the streets.

A hundred percent of crops were reportedly destroyed.

Power lines are down and communication is limited, affecting the local government's assessment of the damage typhoon Juan left the province.

The winds have died down and only occasional rains are being experienced in the province, allowing residents to pick up scattered furniture and materials to rebuild their homes.

But many people are waiting for authorities to announce where they can get basic provisions such as drinking water and food.

Rebuilding begins

In the town of Ilagan in Isabela, many residents returned to their homes to inspect the damage brought about by the devastating super typhoon.

“The weather is much fairer compared to yesterday. A lot of people have actually come out to rebuild their houses, collect their roofs, items or furnitures basically scattered all over the streets,” ABS-CBN News correspondent Jeff Canoy reported for ANC's Dateline Philippines Tuesday noon.

Canoy described the scene as “heartbreaking” as the typhoon destroyed houses and damaged buildings and other infrastructures.

“Everyone's waiting for development from the local government. Everyone's waiting for help,” Canoy reported.

He said a couple of families lived on the streets after their houses were destroyed by strong rains and winds.

“There are lines of people trying to get some drinking water, some people are asking for food and others are waiting for relief goods to arrive,” Canoy reported.

As of posting, power lines were still down in the whole province, but some communication lines had been restored.

“The local government is looking into the extent of the damage of super typhoon Juan. But information has been scarce since they are having a problem with phone signals and phone lines. There is also no electricity here in Isabela,” said Canoy.

Losing everything

An old man broke down in tears after seeing their house destroyed by the typhoon.

Rodel Mendoza brought his grandchildren with him when they were forced to flee Caloacan village in Cabatuan town on Sunday before the storm arrived.

“Alam namin nitong apo ko na ganun, binuhat ko na lang po na lumipat. Hindi na namin tinignan itong bahay para hindi namin maramdaman na kung gaano kasakit,” he said.

Dominga Ortiz’s family suffered the same fate.

She was seen scavenging what was left of their house.

“Mabuti na lang po at walang nangayri at walang namatay sa amin sa awa ng Diyos. Hindi po namin inakala sir na ganito ang mangyayari sa amin. Pag alam lang po sana namin sir na ganito ang mangyayari, handa sana po kami na itong mga gamit namin ay ilipat na lang namin po sa ibang bahay na iyong hindi nagiba,” she said. “Kung makikita ko po itong nangyari sa amin, hindi ko alam kung ano ang gagawin ko.”

Sagip Kapamilya

In Cabatuan town, an ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya team led by Bernadette Sembrano saw only devastation in the typhoon’s wake.

Villagers were in despair as they looked at their destroyed rice crop.

Boy Padama said they were harvesting when the typhoon struck.

“Kasalukuyang ginagapas namin ng Linggo. Nadapa na po lahat,” he said. “Naawa rin po ako sa mga palay kasi yan lang ikabubuhay namin.”

In Naguilan, father and son Frank and Mark Dayag immediately started the task of rebuilding their home.

“Wala naman kaming ibang maasahan,” the older Dayag said.

Another resident, meanwhile, lost everything. Their home, which was built from money sent home by a daughter who works in Manila as house maid, was destroyed by the typhoon.

“Salamat po dumating kayo dahil kailangang ko kayo,” said Nenita Alingog. Her family was among those who received food and clothes from Sagip Kapamilya.

The ABS-CBN team went to Barangay Rangayan in Ilagan town, where it set up a relief operations center and a soup kitchen for affected families.

Destruction

Strong winds and rain destroyed an estimated 70-80% of infrastructure in Ilagan, according to a report by radio dzMM reporter Dennis Datu.

The report said two residents including a 50-year-old woman from Santa Victoria village and a 70-year-old man in Bliss village, died of heart attack at the height of the storm.

Ilagan Mayor Jay Diaz said some 22,000 families comprising more than 100,000 residents were severely affected by the storm. He said members of the local social welfare and development office have started giving out relief goods to the victims.

The dzMM report said Juan, considered the world's strongest typhoon this year, destroyed various establishments including the Ilagan City Hall, several barangay halls and schools and a local Coca-Cola plant.

A Chowking fastfood outlet was also damaged during the storm, with Chowking staff narrating that they had to go into hiding during the worst of the storm.

DZMM also reported that the provincial hospital was badly damaged by the typhoon.

Weather in Ilagan has cleared up but residents are appealing for food, clothes and water from the local government, the report said.

Trapped by typhoon

An ABS-CBN regional news crew deployed to gather reports during the typhoon almost didn’t live to tell the story.

Reporter Darlene Gemino said her team found itself having to seek safe ground when Juan struck Cabagan, Isabela.

“Bumiyahe kami papuntang Cabagan lalo't merong mga inililikas doon,” she said. “Pero pagdating sa lugar kinailangan din naming sumilong dahil napakalakas ng hangin. Inilagay namin sa ligtas na lugar ang aming crew cab.”

They found a gymnasium where people huddled together.

The gymnasium held up for 6 hours before strong winds destroyed its windows and shards of glass started flying everywhere.

“Muntik na kaming tamaan,” Gemino said. “Nasugatan ang isang residente. Tumakbo kami kasama ng iba pang pulis na nagkataon ding nagkubli sa gym.”

When the wind died down slightly, the news crew went out to bring their footage to their headquarters In Santiago City.

"Sa kalsada, tumambad na sa amin ang mga bahay na tila winalis ang mga bubong. Hirap kaming makausad dahil sa mga nakahambalang na poste at kawad ng kuryente. Kaliwat-kanan din ang mga nabuwal na puno,” she said. “Pero sa awa ng diyos, nakauwi kaming ligtas.”

Many are homeless

Isabela Governor Faustino Dy III reported to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) that a tidal wave in the town of Maconacon killed 3 people and injured 10.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) said Isabela is still the most badly hit province in northern Luzon.

Among the most damaged municipalities in Isabela were:

  1. Palanan, where 2,582 families (11,601 individuals) or 80% of the population were affected; 310 houses and a National Food Authority (NFA) warehouse were damaged;
  2. Tumauini, where 70% of houses were blown down, including schools; all Gawad Kalinga (GK) houses were damaged;
  3. Divilacan, where 6 families were affected; and,
  4. Maconacon, which was hit by a tidal wave.

The runway at the province's airport was also damaged and is accessible only to helicopters.

Based on Governor Dy's report to the NDRRMC, they are currently in need of a medical team.

GK sites in N. Luzon affected by Juan

Gawad Kalinga (GK), a community-led sustainable habitat movement, disclosed on Tuesday that GK sites in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Kalinga, Benguet, La Union, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur were affected by typhoon Juan.

"Many areas are hard to reach/contact because there is no electricity and some are barred by landslides," the GK news bureau said in an e-mail.

"Almost 8,000 of our brethren in Northern Luzon have been affected by this calamity. A total of 911 families with 3,824 persons in 15 municipalities and 39 barangays are in evacuation centers," GK said.

GK issued a "call for help" to join "Kalinga sa Bayan: Typhoon Juan Response" to help the victims of northern Luzon.

"We once again rally the spirit of volunteerism and Bayanihan as our response to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the calamity. Each and every one of us can do our part to give and serve the communities in need," GK said.

"Due to the destruction caused by the storm, residential areas all over Northern Luzon were extensively damaged. From our GK communities, no lives were lost but due to the monstrous winds of 140 miles per hour that swept through Isabela a number of housing units lost their roofs and it will take P15,000 to repair each," GK said.

"Many roads have been blocked and electric lines cut-off. It will take a week at the most to restore normal conditions of transportation and communications and for their way of life to return to usual. Our people need our help RIGHT NOW. Your contributions in cash or in kind will truly make a difference in helping them rise out of despair." -- with reports from Jeff Canoy, Bernadette Sembrano, Zen Hernandez, Dennis Datu, Darlene Gemino, ABS-CBN News; ANC; ABS-CBN Cagayan Valley; DZMM