• Melo Acuna

"Ulysses" sends thousands to evacuation centers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic

Government downplays getting ‘flat footed” in disaster response

MANILA – With local government units and members of the uniformed service in rescue operations, Asst. Secretary Casiano Monilla said prior warnings in the form of advisories have been sent to the local elected officials and the mass media to inform them of the latest on Typhoon “Ulysses” from two days ago.

Speaking at a press briefing, Asst. Secretary Monilla said while he had no data on hand about the number of people affected by floods in the National Capital Region and nearby Rizal Province, he expressed confidence LGUs and members of the uniformed service are attending to the affected victims.

“I could not say whether the rains caused by ‘Ulysses’ would be more than what Typhoon “Ondoy/Ketsana” brought in September 23,2009,” he said. Calls to the government’s weather bureau have remained unanswered.

As “Ulysses” moved towards the West Philippine Sea it flooded a big area of Luzon, particularly the National Capital Region with over 170,000 people fleeing their homes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will be recalled “Ulysses” came a week after a howler named “Rolly” inundated a big portion of the agriculture-rich Bicol region and parts of populated areas of Cavite and Batangas provinces.

While media reports quoting PAGASA weather forecaster Benison Estareja saying the “worst may be over,” he refused to say the conditions would improve.

Meanwhile, MERALCO spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said 2,499,884 households in their franchise area have been affected by “Ulysses” and they have fielded crewmen to restore power.

“However, we cannot immediately restore power in flooded areas,” he said. He added people’s safety would be paramount to their interests. The electric company serves the National Capital Region, the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal and parts of Laguna, Pampanga, Quezon and Batangas City.

He described the typhoon’s impact as “widespread” in their franchise area as over one million households in Metro Manila are still without electric power. He could not however say how much revenue losses and damage to their infrastructure have been incurred by the severe weather disturbance.

The Philippine Coast Guard under Admiral George Ursabia fielded 20 rescue teams composed of at least 72 personnel with search and rescue equipment, 10 rubber boats, sic aluminum boats, 11 multipurpose vehicles and three trucks.

They have rescued wars composed mostly of senior citizens from religious-run Hospicio de San Jose as floodwaters rose along Pasig River from Laguna de Bay which cuts across Metro Manila to the Manila Bay.

An additional five teams are on standby at the Philippine Coast Guard headquarters in Manila to assist in evacuation and rescue operations. (Melo M. Acuña)

Philippine Coast Guard personnel seen in rescue operations at a landmark orphanage known as Hospicio de San Jose at the middle of Pasig River. (PCG Photos)

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