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BUTUAN, Philippines – A total of 83,961 individuals or 24,937 families were affected in the Caraga region by Tropical Storm Kabayan (Jelawat) before and even after it weakened into a low-pressure area on Monday, December 18.
In a December 19 situational report, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said 96% of those affected were displaced, accounting for about 80,784 individuals or 24,053 families.
The threat posed by Kabayan sent some 19,225 families or 65,470 persons to over 379 evacuation centers across the region, and 4,828 families or 15,314 persons had taken shelter outside, the NDRRMC report showed.
Roselyn Ebero, a resident of Barangay Tagbayagan in Rosario, Agusan del Sur, told Rappler that her family of five, including a child, evacuated around 10 pm on Monday.
“Our area is prone to flooding, although it doesn’t immediately flood when it rains. However, when there’s a cyclone, the water level rises significantly, entering our house,” Ebero said.
She said they evacuated when the floodwater already reached their kitchen.
Ebero said, “We were afraid it might be similar to a situation in 2020 when a typhoon hit us, and the water really rose high. So, we decided to evacuate.”
Liza Mazo, the director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the Caraga, said there were no reported casualties in the region as of Tuesday.
“We are still awaiting the complete official reports from the provinces, particularly from Agusan del Sur, but as of now, no casualties have been reported,” she said in an interview.
Mazo said the damage assessment in the region was ongoing, but based on the initial report, 35 houses were damaged and another was destroyed in Surigao del Sur province.
She said there was no room for complacency in that there was a possibility of another storm entering the Philippine area of responsibility before year-end.
“We are only halfway through the month, so it’s possible that another one may enter,” she said.
Mazo also called on local governments to prepare, as heavy rains are expected to continue into 2024 despite the El Niño phenomenon, particularly in January, pointing out that this has been a consistent trend in the Caraga region.
“People should not be complacent in their preparations, and barangays should react promptly to implement preemptive evacuations,” she said.
In Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, the Municipal Agricultural Office reported on Monday that more than 721 hectares of rice fields were affected by the flooding in the province. It noted that the rice crops were mostly in the early vegetative and seedling stage.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development said in a situational report that they prepared 15,569 family food packs worth more than P11 million and it had P5 million in reserved funds for the Caraga region alone.
The LPA was located approximately 185 kilometers south of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan as of 3 am on Wednesday, December 20, showed 5 am advisory by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The state weather bureau said the Zamboanga Peninsula region and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) were anticipated to experience cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms due to the trough of the LPA.
It said the rest of Mindanao would likely see partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms attributed to localized thunderstorms.
Moderate to strong winds from the east to northeast are expected over the eastern section of Mindanao, accompanied by moderate to rough seas.
In other areas, residents can anticipate light to moderate winds coming from the east to southeast, paired with slight to moderate sea conditions, PAGASA said. – Rappler.com
Ivy Marie Mangadlao is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.