‘Egay’ slams north, isolates huge area

TROPICAL storm Egay pounded Northern Luzon with heavy rains, inundating at least 11 coastal towns in La Union, taking down power and communication lines and flooding communities where trapped residents sought safety on their rooftops.

The Office of Civil Defense director for Region 2, Chito Castro, said the heavy downpour since Saturday night turned La Union into a virtual ocean, submerging thousands of houses and farmlands and rendering all roads impassable.

Egay’s fury. A mother and her children brave the strong winds at the
Bay Walk in Manila being whipped by tropical storm Egay on Sunday.
Danny Pata
“We have massive flooding here in La Union and 11 coastal municipalities are under water because the major river basins are swollen,” Castro said.

He called on emergency rescuers in the adjacent province of Pangasinan for help.

The towns of Agoo, Caba, Aringay Bauang, San Fernando, San Juan, Bacnotan, Luna. Sto Rosario, Balaoan and Bangar were all heavily flooded, with some houses disappearing under the rising flood waters.

Castro said all power and communications were also out in the province as joint rescue efforts were being coordinated through Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino and Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson.

“We are solely dependent on a generator set to sustain our routine activities, especially in our coordination for rescue  operations,” Castro said.

In Kalinga province, the road from Babalag to Kinama in Rizal was still open to traffic. The Baguio-Bontoc national road in Mountain Province was also still open.

In Isabela, there were no reports of severe damage when Egay landed in the coastal town of Palanan.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported a landslide at Km 35  and 37 at the Montible-Napsan Road in Puerto Princesa City 5 p.m. Saturday, while flood waters were 20 inches deep in Barangay San Jose in Puerto Princesa.

As of Sunday night, Egay had left 1,027 people stranded in major ports in Central Visayas and Luzon.

President Benigno Aquino III and the NDRRMC said Sunday measures were being taken to ensure “zero casualty” from tropical storm Egay.

“President Aquino and the whole government, led by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, are monitoring typhoon Egay, in order to ensure the safety and protect the welfare of our citizens who will be affected by the typhoon. The aim is to have zero casualty,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said over state-run radio station dzRB.

Coloma also said there was enough funding to help residents cope with the possible effects of the storm.

“All government agencies have prepositioned equipment, relief goods and resources. The government also has quick release funds immediately available to the residents affected. The public does not need to worry because we have enough funds for all that is needed to be done by the government,” he said.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA) said in an advisory that the cyclone has maximum winds of 95 kilometers per hour (kph) near its center and gusts of up to 120 kph.

It is forecast to move northwest at 7 kph northwest towards Aparri, Cagayan and Basco, Batanes.

The storm is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility on Wednesay afternoon, Coloma said.

Signal No. 2 was raised in Kalinga Apayao, Isabela, Quirino, Hilagang Aurora, Cagayan, including Babuyan and Calayan.

Signal No. 1 was raised in  Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Benguet, Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra and Batanes, said Coloma.

The government reminded fishermen and those with small boats not to travel due to strong waves brought about by the typhoon.

The government also advised residents of low lying areas,  especially those located in the path of the storm, to be ready and avoid any possible landslides due to the typhoon.

The government urged the public to be observant and monitor regular weather updates and bulletins from their local disaster risk reduction management councils, Coloma said.

Officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport said 14 domestic flights have been cancelled because of Egay.

PAL Express canceled six flights including Manila–Laoag-Manila, Manila-Basco-Manila and Manila-Tuguegarao-Manila while Cebu Pacific canceled their eight domestic flights from Manila to San Jose-Manila, Manila-Virac-Manila and four flights from Manila to Tuguegarao-Manila.

Tropical storm Egay maintained its strength and is forecast to move northwest, the weather bureau said.

The center of the typhoon was located 480 kilometers east of Baler, Aurora at 2 p.m. on Friday.

The weather agency said that most parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila, will experience rains due to the southwest monsoon enhanced by Egay.

PAGASA also issued heavy rainfall advisory in Metro Manila and nearby provinces due to the storm-enhanced southwest monsoon.

It said a “yellow” rainfall warning was issued in Metro Manila (Muntinlupa, Las Pinas, Parañaque, Taguig, Makati, Manila), and the provinces of Cavite and Batangas at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Under the heavy rainfall warning system, a yellow rainfall advisory is raised when the expected rainfall amount is between 7.5 millimeters and 15 mm within one hour and likely to continue.

Communities given this advisory are advised to be aware of the weather condition and warned that flooding may be possible in low-lying areas. – With Rudy C. Santos, Sandy Araneta, AFP, PNA


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