Rolly ravages Albay, at least 10 dead, 3 missing

Tropical Storm Rolly (Goni), a super typhoon when it made landfall, wreaked havoc across the Bicol region on Sunday, November 1, with torrential rain, heavy flooding, and strong lahar flow from the slopes of Mayon Volcano.

Bicol's Office of Civil Defense (OCD Bicol) confirmed early Monday morning that at least 10 people have died and 3 remain missing in the region.

Nine of the 10 casualties were from Albay, including a 5-year-old boy, while the other casualty was from Gigmoto, Catanduanes.

The 3 missing persons are Elvie Cervantes Manrique, 50; Michaela Cervantes Manrique, 18; and Dave Ongaria, all from Guinobatan town, OCD Bicol reported.

Deadly lahar flow

Following the deluge, Ako Bicol Representative Zaldy Co appealed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other government agencies to limit mining and quarrying activities in Mayon Volcano.

“Overextraction leads to death and destruction. We cannot sacrifice lives and properties just for the benefit of a few,” Co said.

He said only heavily silted rivers in Mayon’s gullies must be designated for mining or quarrying. 

“We must learn our lesson: we can save many lives if we ban overextraction of aggregates in Mount Mayon,” the lawmaker insisted, adding that "environmental destruction will only bring us misery and more poverty."

In 2006 during Typhoon Reming, Ed Laguerta, former regional chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in Bicol, warned disaster officials against a repeat of Reming's remobilization of lahar flow in Albay following unregulated quarry operations.

Rescues and evacuations

Local officials across Bicol have ramped up rescue and evacuation efforts in light of the heavy floods and lahar flow.

Santo Domingo Mayor Jun Aguas said he had 3 families rescued once the strong winds subsided.

"One of them was hit by a flying GI sheet," he added.

Former Guinobatan mayor Christophe Flores said the rainwater mixed with volcanic debris was as high as 15 feet in the municipalities of San Rafael and San Francisco.

"Our hall is covered with brown water as of the moment," Flores shared. "Luckily our Mayor Gemma Ongjoco effected the massive evacuation of the residents."

Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi City also enforced another round of evacuations following lahar flow.

345,044 locals have since fled their homes and remain in evacuation centers.

Roads impassable, no connectivity

Basud Bridge in Santo Domingo, Albay was destroyed by lahar, according to Ed Balidoy of the local disaster management office.

Balidoy has since instructed regional officials from the Department of Public Works and Highways to bar trucks and other big vehicles from using it. The bridge connects the first and second districts of Albay.

Towns across Albay are still difficult to reach due to volcanic materials blocking the national highways, and telecommunication services and internet connections remain down. 

Albay, Camarines Sur, and Catanduanes still do not have electricity.

Last October 2, the state weather bureau warned Filipinos to expect more rain in the coming months due to the onset of La Niña.  –