Government and private groups’ early preparation and quick response proved crucial to reports of zero casualty as typhoon “Rosita” (International name: “Yutu”) pounded Luzon, affecting areas previously hammered by typhoon “Ompong” last month.
Various agencies, however, focused on evacuating residents in areas previously declared as susceptible to flooding and landslides with at least one Isabela Province isolated hours after “Rosita’s” landfall.
Isabela was among the 12 provinces in Central and Northen Luzon earlier placed under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 2 but its coastal town of Dinapigue was left almost inaccessible to rescue vehicles and support groups. Signal warning in the province was raised to No. 3 before noon
Dinapigue Mayor Reynaldo Derije said strong winds wrecked structures and cut off power and communication lines. Some 1,200 families were evacuated and no casualty was reported as several barangays, according to Derije, were also flooded.
“No vehicle can cross flooded areas to reach us. We’re isolated,” said Derije whose rescue troops described “Rosita” as more powerful than “Ompong.”
A bridge leading to Dinapigue had collapsed, local officials said.
Rosita made landfall before dawn with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour and gustiness of 210 kph.
Rosita is the 18th typhoon to enter the Philippines this year. Its landfall, however, was anticipated by various local government units (LGU) with officials using their experience from the recent typhoon “Ompong” as yardstick to their preparation and response operations.
It is expected to exit the Philippines on Friday.
“Rosita’s” entry punched a wallop, however, with eight northern Philippine provinces placed on Signal No. 3.
These are Ifugao, Nueva Viscaya, Benguet, Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Quirino and La Union.
Signal No. 2 was raised in the provinces of Cagayan, Quirino, Aurora, Ilocos Norte, Northern Quezon (including Polillo Island), Apayao, Abra, Kalinga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales, Bulacan and Pampanga.
With “Rosita’s” embrace placed at 800-km radius, the Babuyan Group of Islands, Bataan, Rizal, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas were under Signal No. 1.
The eye of the storm was spotted in the vicinity of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya mid-Monday morning, moving southwest at 25 kph.
Northern and Central Luzon experienced moderate to heavy rains that caused the evacuation of residents living in low-lying areas, near river channels and mountainsides, where flood and landslides were feared.
No sailing was advised in affected areas, especially for small seacrafts. A number of boats were reportedly damaged by the raging waters in Dinapigue, Isabela.
Nearly 2,000 passengers were also stranded at the various ports in Luzon.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported 1,492 passengers out of the total 1,937 stranded travelers were grounded at the Batangas Verde Port early Monday.
The Port of Lucena hosted 278 travelers, Polillo Port in Quezon had 60 while Tingloy in Batangas, Calapan in Mindoro, Odiongan in Romblon, Infanta in Quezon, Aklan, Culasi in Capiz, Pasacao in Camarines Sur and Veterance in Cagayan took care of the rest of the stranded passengers.
Also held were 189 rolling cargoes and several other vessels and small boats.
The Cagayan River was also monitored with Cagayan officials implementing preemptive evacuation of residents in areas where overflow was expected.
“The water is expected to come from Isabela, Nueva Viscaya Ifugao and Kalinga. It will drain towards us. We have 12 towns from Tuguegarao to Aparri which would most likely be affected,” the officials said.
A line owned by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) was also damaged by strong winds, causing power outage in the province.
No casualty was reported in Cagayan, too, but 5,000 families composed of 17,000 individuals had to be transferred to safer areas, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD)- Region 2 said.
Also Nueva Vizcaya experienced power outage.
The OCD-Cordillera Administrative Region declared Itogon, Benguet as a critical area. It was there where the landslide triggered by rains brought by typhoon “Ompong” transpired, killing more than 70 people, many of them small-scale miners and members of their families.
No landslide was reported on Tuesday.
Controlled release of water was also made in the Ambuklao, Binga and Magat dams, according to PAGASA.
In Metro Manila, Megaworld Lifestyle Malls waived its overnight parking fees to stranded clients and customers. The service was placed in effect at 11 Megaworld-owned malls.