MS 30th Anniversary XXX

Strongest storm in 25 years

SUPER Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Usagi), the planet’s most powerful storm of the year, battered the Batanes islands on Saturday, bringing torrential rain and ferocious winds, uprooting trees, triggering giant waves and knocking out power as it barrelled toward Taiwan and China. “This is the strongest typhoon to hit Batanes in 25 years,” Batanes Rep. Dina Abad told Manila Standard Today. “It hit hardest starting at 130am when it was gusting at almost 300 kph.” Abad said most residents of the province, which consists of 10 islands, had been aware of Odette since Sept. 17 when it first turned into a tropical storm, but they were not expecting the strength of the super-typhoon that hit them midnight Friday. At 5 p.m. Saturday, the eye of Odette was 170 km west of Itbayat, Batanes, but it was packing sustained winds of 175 kph near the center and gusts of up to 210 kph. “The howling winds began at midnight and they churned up to 8 meter waves that damaged the port and sank moored fishing boats,” she said, quoting Sabtang Mayor Max Babalo. She said coconut trees were torn in half or were uprooted, while terrified residents couldn’t sleep as the storm battered roofs above their heads. “The ferocious winds of Odette swirled with fury like a tornado,” she quoted Mayor Reuel Ibanez of the hardest hit town of Itbayat. The aviation tower at the provincial airport was also heavily damaged. “I think the estimate of the damage will be bigger tomorrow when have a clearer assessment on the ground,” she said. But Malacañang said assistance will be provided to the families affected by Odette even if the government is also focused on the Zamboanga City crisis. Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the government allocated enough emergency relief assistance for communities affected and the Department of Social Welfare and Development readied P113.58 million worth of emergency relief, including standby funds. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Odette caused power interruptions in other parts of Northern Luzon. Electricity was cut in Baguio City; Conner, Apayao; Lagawe, Kiangan, Aguinaldo, Asipulo, Banaue, Mayoyao, Hingyon, Hunduan, Tinoc in Ifugao; and Balbalan, Lubuagan in Kalinga. The NDRRMC also said floods brought by the bad weather rendered more roads and bridges impassable, including Abusag and Bagunot Bridges in Baggao. Both bridges were impassable with the river swelling its banks. Also rendered impassable due to overflowed river were Sta. Maria-Cabagan Road in Isabela and Teresita Avenue in Tuguegarao City. NDRRMC also said a total of 103 families, or 341 people, were affected by floods in Solamague, Paniqui, Tarlac and sought temporary shelter at Bacao Solamague Evacuation Center. It added five families in CAR also affected due to flood while 13 families or 65 individuals were affected by the tornado incident in Region 6.
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