The Philippine weather bureau on Sunday warned of heavy rains, floods and landslides in mountainous areas of the country, with intensifying severe tropical storm “Falcon” (international code name: Khanun) forecast to develop into a typhoon.
Falcon is expected to “steadily intensify within the next three days,” the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in its 5 a.m. advisory. It is forecast to become a typhoon between late evening Sunday or Monday early morning and reach its peak intensity on Tuesday.
Aid for Egay victims
This developed as President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. assured the government would provide immediate housing repair assistance and “emergency support” for residents of Northern Luzon who were affected by the onslaught of typhoon “Egay” (international code name: Doksuri).
In an interview, Marcos assured typhoon victims in the evacuation centers that the government will fast track the rehabilitation efforts so that they will be able to go back to their respective houses and rebuild their homes.
The President said the government is now in the process of identifying the people whose houses were either totally or partially damaged by the typhoon so that the necessary assistance can be provided.
“For those whose houses have been destroyed—completely destroyed houses—there is emergency support that will be provided by DHSUD [Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development], the human settlements, and there is also assistance from NHA [National Housing Authority]. They can work together to provide assistance and help build houses,” he added.
But one of the biggest concerns is restoring the supply of electricity in the region, particularly in Ilocos Norte, Marcos said, noting the province sustained extensive damage to its power lines.
Restoring power will take time because linemen have to meticulously repair the entire system before the power supply can be switched on, the President said.
Marcos said the government would also provide construction materials to the victims to allow them to rebuild their homes.
Some residents in Egay-hit areas in Northern Luzon are temporarily taking shelter at evacuation centers where medical teams and other government assistance have been provided to ensure their safety.
While Falcon is on a northward path over the Philippine Sea and appears to be heading away from landmass, heavy rainfall is expected as the storm and super typhoon Egay, which hit the country last week, boost the Southwest Monsoon, Pagasa said. This will bring “occasional” monsoon showers over the western parts of Luzon and the Visayas, Pagasa said.
The water level of the capital region’s Marikina River reached 16.1 meters (52.8 feet) Saturday evening, nearing the 18-meter level that triggers a forced evacuation of certain parts of Marikina City, it was reported.
The Philippines is affected by an average of 20 tropical cyclones a year, making it one of the world’s worst hit countries, according to Pagasa.
Egay, which struck last week, destroyed more than P1.3 billion worth of agricultural crops and caused an estimated P2.66 billion of damage to infrastructure, including bridges and roads, according to local media reports that cited the agriculture and public works departments.
The super typhoon affected half a million people mostly in the northern parts of main Luzon Island and left 14 dead, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. It flooded more than 258 villages in the Luzon provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga, located north of Manila.
Falcon is moving at 15 kilometers an hour with maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gusts of up to 115 kph, Pagasa said. It’s forecast to move north northwestward before veering northwestward Monday, according to the weather bureau.
The tropical storm may exit the Philippines Monday evening or early Tuesday before turning west northwestward and passing close to Japan’s Okinawa Islands in the Ryukyu Archipelago on Tuesday morning and then entering the East China Sea.
President Marcos also said the government is now conducting an inventory to determine the number of public schools in Northern Luzon that were affected by Egay ahead of the opening of classes next month.
He said that an inventory of the damaged public schools would be conducted so that the government can determine the extent of the damage left by typhoon in schools to ensure a smooth opening of classes in August.
The President emphasized that the idea was brought up by Senator Imee Marcos, who accompanied him during today’s visit to Egay-hit areas in Northern Luzon.
The Chief Executive presided over a series of briefings last Saturday in Bangued, Abra; Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; and Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, where he received initial reports on the effects of typhoon Egay in Northern Luzon.
The President also conducted aerial inspections of the affected areas in Abra and Ilocos Norte.
Meanwhile, Marcos has expressed satisfaction with the government’s response to Egay, as he promised to continue providing aid to those affected, particularly food, potable water, medicine, and shelter assistance.
He noted that the country has to get used to the new weather pattern because of the obvious effects of climate change.
Government responders are working to reach isolated areas to bring food and basic necessities, using all means to provide assistance to far-flung communities, Marcos said, adding that the good thing is that the government was able to preposition food packs in critical areas before the typhoon struck. Bloomberg and Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz
Image credits: AP/Bernie Sipin Dela Cruz