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‘Like we’re inside a washing machine’

Carmela Fonbuena

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Dinagat Islands is between Eastern Samar and Surigao del Norte, which are badly hit by the super typhoon

FELLED TREES: Strong winds lashed the island province of Dinagat. Photo from the Facebook account of Rep Kaka Bag-ao

MANILA, Philippines — The island province of Dinagat is located just below Guiuan town of Eastern Samar, where typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) made its first landfall. 

Dinagat residents felt the strong winds at 11 pm Thursday, November 7, said Representative Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao. They are used to typhoons that come and go. But this was different, she said. Yoland’s strong winds lashed the island like they’ve never experienced before. (READ: Most powerful 2013 storm hits PH)

“I actually stepped out of my house [in capital town San Jose].  The wind was hissing like a snake. It was like I was inside a washing machine,” Bag-ao said. 

It got scary at 4 am Friday, November 8, when the island province experienced storm surges of up to 4 feet. The shanties along the shores were uprooted. Trees fell and roofs flew. Power was cut and the debris made roads impassable. 

Dinagat Islands is between Eastern Samar and Surigao Del Norte, all placed under typhoon signal number 4. The province is also beside Siargao Islands, which is also suffering total blackout. 

Bag-ao said she’s just thankful there are no reported deaths so far. Residents of the coastal villages followed orders of pre-emptive evacuation. But she received reports of damage to livelihood, especially mango trees that are already flowering.

The strong winds stopped at around 630 am Friday. Clearing operations have begun in some areas. But it’s still blackout in the entire province.

Bag-ao is hoping the worst is over for her little island province. She’s worried of landslides.

There are initial reports of landslides in the mountains along the highway. But residents there were also evacuated, she said.

About 2,000 families are staying in various schools and gymnasiums. Bag-ao said they have supply to feed the evacuees in the next 2 days. 

Dinagat residents get their supply from nearby Surigao Del Norte. But during typhoons, they’re isolated.

If Yolanda leaves Saturday evening, as projected, they’ll be okay. —

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