At least 156 barangays in 24 towns in Cagayan province were inundated with floodwaters—looking like a murky Pacific Ocean, according to a disaster management official—due to torrential rains brought by Typhoon Ulysses and monsoon rains as well as the release of water from Magat Dam.
“Cagayan now looks like the Pacific Ocean. All municipalities along Cagayan River are flooded,” said Col. Ascio Macalan of the Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office in an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
The Tuguegarao City Command Center said almost the entire province was under water, and residents stayed on their rooftops for more than 24 hours since Friday while waiting to be rescued.
Macalan said more than 13,000 families or 47,000 residents in Cagayan were severely affected by the floods.
The entire province was placed under a state of calamity on Saturday as Ulysses left at least nine people dead, Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba told dzBB.
Mamba said four died from a landslide, two from drowning, and three from electrocution.
Large swathes of neighboring province Isabela and Pampanga in Central Luzon likewise remained submerged in floodwaters Saturday.
Data released by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council yesterday night put the typhoon death toll at 37—20 in Cagayan Valley region, six in Calabarzon, five in Bicol, and six in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The NDRRMC deployed some 3,700 personnel to Cagayan and Isabela, but search and rescue operations were hampered by thoroughfares that remained impassable.
From Cordillera to Sierra Madre
“We could not move around. All the roads are closed. The high is under water. The entire valley from Cordillera to Sierra Madre was filled with water. You cannot even discern where is Cagayan, where is the highway,” Mamba said.
President Rodrigo Duterte will visit the severely flooded province today (Sunday) as Malacañang belied accusations that the national government was caught unprepared by the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela.
“We were not caught unprepared because we were able to preposition,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
“The rescue operations in Cagayan continue. Indeed, this is a challenging time for every Filipino. Together, we ask everyone to unite, help one another, and show kindness to our fellowmen,” Roque added.
The hashtag #CagayanNeedsHelp trended late Friday evening with posting photos and audio clips of residents trapped on their rooftops crying out for help
Aside from the floodwaters, the province’s health protocols against the novel coronavirus disease has limited the movement of search and rescue teams and even media outlets.
This prompted Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to order the Cagayan provincial government to ease its strict restrictions, including a 14-day quarantine for non-residents.
“The situation in Cagayan requires unhampered disaster response and recovery operations by rescue and relief organizations. Therefore, all LGUs in Cagayan and Isabela should ease up access in their areas to facilitate disaster operations,” Año said.
The management of the COVID-19 pandemic, Año added, should not hamper nor delay the entry, passage, or operations of all government and private sector humanitarian assistance and response personnel.
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