598 families evacuated; P18.5M agri products destroyed in Zambales

Torrential rain brought about by Typhoon Falcon has caused the evacuation of 598 families here in Zambales, destroyed portions of dikes and triggered landslides, and damaged more than P18.5 million in rice crops and other agricultural products.

Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. on Tuesday urged residents to be extraordinarily alert as Falcon (international name: Khanun), which was expected to further intensify, would enhance the southwest monsoon or habagat and further spawn heavy rainfall of from 100 to 200 mm.

“Maraming tubig ito (This is a lot of rain). Because 150 mm is about 6 inches using the rain gauge. So, even as we are ready with all the equipment for rescue and all the foodstuff for relief operations, kailangan pa ring mag-ingat ang lahat (Everybody still needs to keep safe),” Ebdane pointed out.

The governor went around the province over the weekend to assess the situation of crucial infrastructure like dikes and bridges, and instructed the various provincial government offices to maintain services to residents even during bad weather conditions.

“Everything’s under control, as it is right now, because we have prepared for all contingencies as early as when Typhoon Egay (Doksuri) began causing flooding in several areas,” Ebdane added.

He also noted that strong river current has damaged parts of protective dikes in the municipalities of San Felipe, Cabangan and San Narciso, minor landslides in Masinloc and Subic, damaged roads in San Marcelino, as well as a bridge and spillway in San Antonio, but added that these will be repaired within just a few days.

“Right now, some of the damaged infra are already being repaired,” Ebdane assured the public.

A report from the Zambales Provincial Disaster Risk-Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) at 11 a.m. on Tuesday showed that 78 barangays in the 13 towns of Zambales were impacted by the typhoon, with 3,390 families and 10,544 persons adversely affected.

Floods also led to the pre-emptive evacuation of residents in 33 barangays, with 542 families or 1,908 persons temporarily staying in evacuation centers and 56 families or 399 persons sheltering outside the centers.

Moreover, about 200 workers of Santa Cruz Solar Energy, Inc., a firm putting up a a 283-megawatt solar plant in San Marcelino town had been evacuated to the town’s covered court because of heavy rains.

Zambales PDRRMO head Rolex Estella, however, noted that some of the evacuees have returned home, pointing out that from 609 families at 2:00 pm on Monday, the number dwindled to 583 that same night and to 542 on Tuesday morning.

Estella added that while Gov. Ebdane has not yet declared a state of calamity over the province, the provincial government has already suspended classes in all school levels and work in both public and private offices.

It has also activated the provincial Emergency Operations Center, coordinated with various agencies concerned with public health and safety, brought Water Search and Rescue (WASAR) teams on standby, provided sand bags to Botolan and San Marcelino towns, and distributed relief food packs to affected and evacuated families.

Ebdane’s office and the PDRRMO also continue to monitor the situation closely, Estella added. (Dante M. Salvaña)

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