LEGAZPI CITY (July 28, 2011 6:30 A.M.) – All storm signals lifted, flood waters receding and Typhoon Juaning leaving the country, Bikolanos now have time to take stocks and realize that the Bikol region bore the brunt of unexpected massive rains and strong winds brought by Typhoon Juaning.
Projection models show that Juaning merely skirted Bikol and in fact Juaning passed East of the region as a Tropical Depression and Albay was under Signal No. 1 when most of the damages to the province were taking place.
Weather data do not tell the whole story. Juaning caused landslides and heavy floods that are not usually caused by Tropical Depressions. Bikol was way off Juaning's path but the tropical depression wrecked more lives and properties here than in areas where it came as a full-blown typhoon.
According to Albay Governor Joey Salcedo, this was the worst disaster that came to the province next only to Typhoon Reming that left more than 1000 dead and about 100,000 homes damaged back in 2006.
Salceda said that Juaning pounded them with Signal no. 3 strength winds and rains causing homes to be damaged and even submerged up to rooftop level. He blasted at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) for erroneous forecast. Salceda's mother, Cielo Salceda, even became one of the victims when she died of head injury sustained after she slipped off the stairs while moving around in darkness after electricity was cut off because of the typhoon.
Power was restored in Legazpi City last night.
Typhoon Juaning left Bikol region with 23 dead, 7 injured, 6 missing. The latest addition to the fatalities were the 3 fishermen from Viga Catanduanes whose dead bodies were recovered yesterday. One other companion is still missing.
Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) regional director Rafael Alejandro enumerated some of the fatalities as: Noel Angeles, 43, Rolando Angolo, 45, both of Baras, Catanduanes and three siblings who were buried by a landslide in Polangui Albay.
Other deaths were reported in Tiwi, Daraga, and Pio Duran, Albay, and Tinambac, Camarines Sur.
Five of the 6 missing persons are fisherman lost at sea since Monday (July 25) and were identified as: Romeo Robles, Romeo Balanban, both of Baras, Cataduanes; Salvador Donganan, Elmer Balmaceda and Elmer Abas, all of Rapu-Rapu island in Albay.
Included among the missing persons is an unidentified child who was reportedly carried by landslide into the Agos river in Bato, Camarines Sur on Tuesday morning.
A province-wide State of Calamity was declared Wednesday in Albay which has over 100,000 evacuees coming from low-lying villages in Polangui, Libon, Oas, Ligao, Guinobatan,Daraga and Legazpi City.
A state of calamity has also been declared in the provinces of Catanduanes and Camarines Sur.
Sections of the Maharlika highway in Bato, Nabua and Iriga City got submerged in waist-deep water or higher and remained impassable until Wednesday morning.
The OCD regional office also reported that affected families in Camarines Sur have swollen to over 20,477 families because of heavy floods in the towns of Bato,Balatan, Bula, Nabua, Baao, Minalabac, Milaor, San Fernando, Gainza, Bombon, Pasacao and even in Naga City where 60 families still remain in evacuation sites.
Balatan town Mayor Ernesto Bagasbas reported that his town has been isolated since Tuesday after half-kilometer portion of the main road artery got buried by landslide. No casualty has been reported in this coastal town.
In Camarines Norte, Gov. Edgardo Tallado said that heavy rains and strong winds started coming Tuesday evening. Province-wide, around 4000 families were evacuated.
A tornado reportedly hit the town of Vinzons at 5:00 P.M on Tuesday destroying the homes of 4 families. Another tornado also occurred in Basud Monday evening.
Heavy rains also flooded villages in Labo, Vinzons, Jose Panganiban, Paracale and the capital town of Daet.
A landslide in Camarines Norte Jose Panganiban claimed the lives of 5 members of a household and injured 2 others
Nationwide 27 dead, 34 injured and 28 missing have been reported.
In Aurora where Juaning made a landfall yesterday morning, 3 towns - Casiguran Dinalungan, Linasag - remain isolated and have no electricity. Also, no telecom service provider is up in the area.
In Casiguran, trees fell down and roofs of at least 30 houses were blown away, No casualty has been reported.
Juaning, now downgraded to Tropical Storm, exited in Ilocos Sur late last night and at midnight was located 110 km southwest of Laoag City moving 19 kph West Northwest into the West Philippine Sea. It packs a center wind of 85 kilometers per hour (kph) with gusts up to 100 kph. It is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility this morning. (With reports from Sonny Sales)