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Monday, June 17, 2024

‘Shear line’ rains cause flooding, force 35k in Samar to evacuate

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Tacloban City—More than 35,000 people were brought to safer ground as floodwaters engulfed large areas in Northern and Eastern Samar Tuesday, after a shear line–an area where cold and warm air meet—dumped six weeks’ worth of rain in the Eastern Visayas region.

Northern Samar Gov. Edwin Ongchuan suspended classes in the province from Nov. 20 due to severe weather conditions over the weekend.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Tuesday that about 57,606 people — or 14,775 families— in 103 barangays in Northern Samar, Samar, Easter Samar, Southern Leyte, and Biliran have been affected by the floods.

As of Tuesday, roads that were not passable to all types of vehicles on Samar Island included the Catarman-Laoang road; Pangpang-Palapag-Mapanas-Gamay-Lapinig-Arteche boundary road; and other barangay roads in Nipa, Maragano, and Cabatuan, all in Palapag town in Northern Samar.

The Police Regional Office-Eastern Visayas said a total of 1,082 evacuation centers were set up across the affected areas.

In Northern Samar, 54 were occupied by 6,038 families, while in Eastern Samar, three were used by 195 families.

Of the 35,378 evacuees, 34,723 were in Northern Samar and 655 were in Eastern Samar, the police regional command said Tuesday afternoon.

Significant rains due to the shear line also caused flooding in Capiz and Aklan, affecting 15,464 families or 49,129 people in the two provinces, a report released by the Office of the Civil Defense Western Visayas (OCD 6) said on Tuesday.

“We are also waiting for reports from Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Antique because they also have rainfall warnings, and we also have recorded heavy rainfall,” OCD 6 information officer Cindy Ferrer said in an interview.

Aklan has 620 affected families, while Capiz has 14,844 families.

Ferrer said of the affected families, 260, or 816 people were in evacuation centers, while the rest were with their relatives or outside of the shelters.

Capiz, Aklan, and portions of northern Iloilo are among the areas affected, Ferrer said.

As of 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) listed 129 barangays susceptible to flooding, most of them in Capiz with 92, Aklan with 30, and Antique, seven.

Ferrer said all local disaster risk reduction and management offices in the region were ready with the contingencies, and their quick response teams on alert for deployment.

She also advised those in low-lying areas to remain vigilant and move to evacuation centers when needed.

No flights were canceled in Eastern Visayas despite the weather conditions brought about by the shear line.

Twenty-six areas were without electricity, covering the entire 24 towns of Northern Samar and two municipalities of Eastern Samar, namely Jipapad and Maslog.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development in the region allocated P3.44 million for assistance to the affected areas and released 4,785 family food packs.

Towns in several affected towns have requested more food packs, which contain two cans of sardines, four cans of corned beef, four cans of tuna flakes, five sachets of coffee, five choco malt drinks, and six kilos of rice.

Within 24 hours, between Monday 8 a.m. and Tuesday 8 a.m., the weather bureau’s station in Catamaran town recorded 619 millimeters of rain, more than its normal rainfall of 457.8 millimeters in November, and higher than the amount of rain recorded during the onslaught of Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009.

Floods almost reached the second story of some houses in the towns of Catarman, Lope de Vega, and Catubig.

In Sorsogon, 185.0 millimeters of rain were recorded at the Juban station of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

The shear line forms only during the northeast monsoon or amihan season, when the cool northeast monsoon meets the warm and moist winds blowing from the Pacific. The difference in temperatures of the air masses allows big thunderstorm clouds to form and dump heavy rains.

Shear line rains have been battering the Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas for about a week. A low-pressure area that approached the region also added to the rains before it dissipated last Sunday.

The state weather bureau forecasts that the shear line will continue to bring heavy rain in South Luzon and the Visayas until Wednesday.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) deployed search and rescue teams to evacuate residents in the affected areas.

In Catarman, Northern Samar, PCG spokesperson Rear Adm. Armando Balilo said the Coast Guard District Eastern Visayas, through its Coast Guard Station in Northern Samar, rescued three families at Barangay Macagtas from a chest-deep flood. They were relocated to an evacuation center in Catarman.

“The rescue and evacuation operations are still in progress as emergency response teams continue their efforts to safeguard the residents of Catarman. The situation is being closely monitored, and additional resources are being deployed to manage the evolving crisis,” Balilo said in a statement.

The shear line may bring a significant amount of rain in the next three days in Southern Luzon and the Visayas, PAGASA said.

The Bicol region, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), the southern portion of Quezon, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, and Northern Samar may also experience heavy rainfall today.

Tomorrow, heavy rainfall is forecast to persist in Aurora, Quezon, and Camarines Norte.

“Under these conditions, flooding and rain-induced landslides are expected, especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards as identified in hazard maps,” Pagasa’s latest advisory read.

PAGASA earlier said the shear line will bring scattered rains in Bicol, Mimaropa, Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Floods and landslides were reported in several parts of Bicol, and towns in Samar and Panay islands.

The weather bureau is also monitoring a cloud cluster over the Sulu Sea that could develop into a low-pressure area in the coming days, according to weather forecaster Grace Castañeda.


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