The death toll from Typhoon “Ulysses” climbed to 67, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in its 9 a.m. update on Sunday.
The council's spokesman, Mark Cashean Timbal, said 22 persons were found dead in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley); two in Region 3; 17 in Calabarzon; eight for Bicol; 10 in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and eight in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The NDRRMC also reported 21 injuries and 12 persons missing.
Damage to agriculture was placed at P1.19 billion in Regions 1, 2, 3, Calabarzon, Bicol, and CAR as the typhoon destroyed agricultural lands in its path and left thousands of farmers and fishermen with no means of livelihood.
The Department of Agriculture said so 49,237 farmers were affected by the typhoon, and that 54,043 hectares of agricultural land was destroyed.
The typhoon destroyed rice, corn, high value crops, fishery resources and livestock in the CAR, the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and the Bicol region.
Infrastructure damage was estimated at P469.7 million in Region 1, Mimaropa, and Bicol.
Ulysses also damaged a total of 25,852 houses.
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has 17 of its personnel and rescue boats, a water tanker, food trucks, and food and other non-food aid such as tarpaulins, its chairman said Sunday.
PRC chairman Senator Richard Gordon said the PRC staff would recruit volunteers on the ground.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Sunday that the death toll in the Cagayan Valley reached 24, while 13 people were reported missing.
In an interview on Dobol B Sa News TV, AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said search and rescue operations of teams from the Army, Philippine Air Force and the Navy continued on Sunday.
Arevalo appealed for more relief items and food packs as these are most needed by Cagayan Valley flood victims.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, meanwhile, said the department would need more than P290 million to repair health facilities damaged by Ulysses.
In a briefing on the government’s typhoon response, Duque said several facilities such as treatment and rehabilitation centers, rural health units, and barangay health stations were hit hard by the storm.
“One of the priorities is to repair the damage to isolation and quarantine facilities in [Region 5], which would reach P11.2 million,” Duque said.
“It’s not much but we need the money right away because this is a basic service that needs immediate attention and repair,” Duque added.
He urged the relevant agencies to move quickly to release funds for typhoon recovery efforts.
“The problem is historically, the government moves slowly, especially the national government,” he said.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the DOH would send a team to Cagayan Valley to help health workers there respond to the needs of residents affected by the massive flooding due to Ulysses.
Cabotaje, in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, said health workers in Region 2 have already asked DOH for help as they are already weary following the successive typhoons that have torn through the region.
Cabotaje said the DOH also asked the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and the World Health Organization to help them in various health-related concerns, such as provision of medical consultations and psychosocial briefing, and checking water cleanliness and sanitation.
Cabotaje reminded the residents to still observe minimum health standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as many are still staying in evacuation centers.
She added that they have not yet received any report of COVID-19 infection in evacuation centers.
Cabotaje also warned the public against leptospirosis, which could be contracted from exposure in floodwaters.
Also on Sunday, Senator Imee Marcos said decades of neglect of the country's dams and other infrastructure led to the severe flash floods that devastated Cagayan and Isabela.
“Typhoon Ulysses brought back the horror of Ondoy. The government may have learned to prepare in advance but fell short of the magnitude of disaster,” she said.
“The 38-year-old Magat Dam and other old dams have not been upgraded in decades, their surrounding watershed forests have been denuded, and hence Magat would have collapsed under the deluge of Typhoon Ulysses if water was not released,” she said. “The cycle of calamity, panic and suffering will continue unless we improve our water infrastructure.”
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, is filing a bill that aims to upgrade the country’s water facilities and resources and reorganize their management amid the challenges of population growth and climate change.
"The water crisis will be the crisis of coming decades: flooding, shortages, the need for rain harvest infrastructure, management. It’s urgent we grapple with the challenges ASAP,” Marcos said.
With a population of about 12 million and still growing, Metro Manila will be needing a water supply larger than what the 52-year-old Angat Dam can provide, Marcos said.
“In recent years, we have experienced water rationing which can be aggravated by greater sanitation needs during pandemics like COVID-19,” Marcos added.
Besides the upgrading of dams, Marcos wants to revive flood control projects like the unfinished Parañaque Spillway conceived in the 1970s and the dredging of Laguna Lake aborted in 2011, both of which could mitigate flooding in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.
Marcos also said the country can take advantage of typhoons by creating more rain harvesting facilities that will not only reduce flooding but also increase the supply of non-potable water for agricultural irrigation, fish farming, and urban sanitation.
Less than 10 percent of rainfall in the country is harvested, with most of it draining toward the sea, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
“We also need to build more infrastructure, like the Candaba Viaduct built way back in 1976, that are elevated above swamps and flood-prone areas to prevent the interruption of supply chains during heavy downpours,” Marcos said.
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