Parts of Baao still flooded; LGUs act to lower NFA rice prices

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

CAMARINES SUR (Mar. 8) – A moderately strong earthquake hit mainland Bikol, Catanduanes and Samar on Monday evening.

The earthquake, which measured a magnitude 6.9 on the Richter scale, had an epicenter 159 kilometers northeast of Catarman, Samar according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS also said that the epicenter of the tremor was recorded to be 24 kilometers below the Earth's surface. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), however, said that the tremor measured a magnitude 6.5 and recorded its depth at 50 kilometers beneath the surface.

The seismic waves from the earthquake reached mainland Bikol at 10:11 PM and lasted anywhere from 10 to 25 seconds, depending on the geological makeup of the area. In the cities of Legazpi and Sorsogon as well as in Daet, the tremor registered a magnitude 4. In most areas of Camarines Sur though, including the cities of Naga and Iriga, the earthquake registered as a magnitude 5.

Many Bikolanos were alarmed as several short power outages were felt throughout the region immediately after the tremor. A sudden severe thunderstorm added to the fears. The said storm surprised many because of the volume of rain and wind intensity.

Michael Padua, amateur meteorologist and webmaster of, said in an interview that the sudden outburst was part of a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS). According to Padua, an MCS occurring in the Philippines is extremely unusual. MCS are common in Japan, Korea, and North America, particularly near mountain ranges. This kind of weather disturbance is characterized by gale-force winds and up to 300mm (12 inches) of rain. The thunderstorms, according to Padua's estimation, formed at around 11 PM on Monday, and dissipated 9 AM the next day.

The storm's sudden and unusual nature led many to believe that it was part of the low pressure system reported by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Aeronautical Space Administration (PAGASA). However, no other international weather bureau reported a low pressure system near Bikol.

Padua also said that the storm dumped an estimated 150mm (6 inches) of rain in 11 hours and brought winds of up to 66 kph. In comparison, PAGASA requires only winds of 65 kph to declare Typhoon signal no. 1.

Because of the heavy, constant rain, several municipalities became submerged in floodwaters in this province. In the town of Baao, several barangays became inundated after Baao Lake overflowed its banks. Barangays Eulalia, San Francisco, and San Jose in Baao were still inundated as of presstime.

According to Baao mayor Jun Bongcayao's staff, an estimated 1,500 families were directly affected by the floods. "Rolling Stores" were also mobilized to help Baaoeños buy important commodities like rice. In Naga City, Mayor Jesse M. Robredo ordered city councilor Maria Elizabeth "Babeth" Lavadia to investigate complaints of overpricing of National Food Authority (NFA) rice.

Lavadia, the chairman of the Committee on Consumers Protection of the Sanggunian Panlungsod, inspected stores earlier this week with representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry. To help lessen the impact of potential increases in rice prices, the local government has mobilized two "Rolling Stores" to sell NFA rice at the standard price of P18.25.

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