Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bulacan under state of calamity again for 3rd straight year

MALOLOS CITY—For the third straight year, the province of Bulacan is placed under the state of calamity.

This was announced on Saturday by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado during his weekly radio program over Radyo Bulacan, a local radio station in this city.

However, Alvarado announcement of the state of calamity is followed by caution on local mayors not to over spend their calamity funds, which is equivalent to five percent of a local government unit’s annual budget.

The governor reminded mayors from 21 towns and three component cities in the province that calamity funds must be spent judiciously.

“It is only August and end of the year is far from over, there might be another calamity,” Alvarado said in vernacular.

He explained that placing the province under state of calamity is a way of helping Bulakenyos  to easily recover.

The governor said that declaration of state of calamity will allow employees to obtain calamity loans.

In 2011, Bulacan was placed under state of calamity after the onslaught of typhoon Pedring and Quiel, and in August last year when the province was inundated due to heavy southwest monsoon rains.

According to Board Member Michael Fermin, the state of calamity was declared as early as Thursday after the Sangguniang Panglalawigan issued approved a resolution.

The resolution is based on the urgent request of Alvarado on Wednesday citing damages in the province caused by flood spawned by typhoon Maring and intense rains brought by the southwest monsoon.

Records from the  Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) showed that weeklong heavy rains and flooding left P116,509,373.82 damages in agriculture and fisheries in the province.

With regards to infrastructure, the PDRRMO cited reports from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) First Engineering District which estimated initial damage of P5.5-M on roads and other infrastructures.

The PDRRMO also reported that about hald of the 569 barangays in the province were inundated by one to four feet deep flood.

It left a total of 208,201 families of 952,038 individuals affected wherein a total of 7,790 families or 31,383 individuals were evacuated.

Heavy rains also caused dams in the province to discharge water, but as of yesterday morning, Engineer Precioso Punzalan of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said that they only discharging 151 cubic meters per second (CMS).

Punzalan explained that their water discharge will have minimal effect on villages at the downstream of the  Angat River.

For its part, the Pampanga River Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (PRFFWC) said flooding in the coastal towns of Bulacan and Pampanga will continue to persist due to high tide and backflood from Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pampanga draining to Manila Bay.

Hilton Hernando, head of the PRFFWC said that affected towns includes Apalit, Macabebe, and Masantol in Pampanga, and the towns of Calumpit and Hagonoy in Bulacan. Dino Balabo

Bulakenyos cite prayers for downgrade of rainfall alert

By Dino Balabo

 MALOLOS CITY—Answered prayers!

This was how some Bulakenyos described the low rainfall yesterday morning, a day after priests of the Diocese of Malolos started praying while other residents invoked an “oration imperata” on Tuesday as intense rains pummelled several towns in the province.

Lower rainfall also gave a sigh of relief to thousands of Bulakenyos who expected deeper floods yesterday as the Bustos Dam discharged 500 cubic meters per second of water into the Angat River starting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Elmer Santos, a municipal councilor from Hagonoy, was overjoyed with the turn of events.

“God heard our prayers,” he said a day after sending out text messages containing oratio imperata and asked his town mates to recite it.

Records from the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRMMO) showed a lull in rainfall in the towns of Bulakan, Hagonoy, Sta, Maria, Paombong, Pandi, San Rafael, and Norzagaray. 

The most notable changes were observed in Paombong which recorded 127 mm six hour rainfall on Tuesday morning, but yesterday, it dropped to 48.77 mm.

In Bulakan, Tuesday’s rainfall was 80.01 mm but dropped to 11.86 mm yesterday while in Meycauayan City, it dropped to 38.10 mm yesterday from  63.75 mm on Tuesday.

Santos said that both towns were spared from the deep flooding  they expected to set in by early morning yesterday as Bustos Dam operators reduced the discharge to 190 cms by 11:30 p.m. of Tuesday.

The same was echoed by Mayor Raulito Manlapaz who explained in an exclusive interview yesterday that flooding in Hagonoy town was only caused by sea level rise or high tide and partly aggravated by the tail end of the water discharged from Bustos Dam.

Manlapaz also said that since Monday, at least 22 of the 26 villages of Hagonoy town went underwater due to heavy rains and high tide.

They are now repacking relief goods to be distributed before the end of the week even if there is no declaration of state of calamity in the town.

For his part, Vice Mayor Pedro Santos said that they will prioritize over 100 families evacuated in different evacuation centers in the town and the coastal villages of Pugad and Tibaguin as fisherfolk in those villages were not able to go out to the seas for over a week now due to stormy weather since typhoon Labuyo passed Luzon last week.

As this developed,  the PDRRMO reported a total of 2,436 families composed of 9,283 individuals were evacuated from 14 towns of the province, namely, Balagtas, Baliwag, Bocaue, Calumpit, Guiguinto, Marilao,Obando, Pulilan, Paombong, Plaridel, Sta. Maria, and the cities of San Jose Del Monte,  Meycauayan , and Malolos.

The PDRRMO also said that heavy rains rendered a number of roads in the province non-passable to light vehicles as of yesterday Thursday morning.