By Nef Luczon, Jigger Jerusalem and Divina Suson
RESCUE. Personnel from the Phil. Coast Guard District Northern Mindanao rescue stranded residents living near the flooded Bitan-ag Creek in Cagayan de Oro City as Typhoon Odette makes landfall in Mindanao Thursday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2021. The city recorded zero casualties in the aftermath of the typhoon. (PNA photo by Jigger Jerusalem)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Typhoon Odette has left this city and Iligan with zero casualty in its aftermath Friday, despite having a maximum sustained winds of 195 kph, and gustiness of up to 240 kph.
During the online coronavirus disease 2019 briefer, Dr. Teodoro Yu Jr., medical officer of the City Health Office took the time to thank the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) led by Nick Jabagat for its vigilant response and close coordination with rescuers and volunteers on the ground.
Mayor Oscar Moreno said the local government was also thankful to partner organizations and agencies, adding that despite the threat of property destruction and cost of lives, the unified team was able to survive.
“The sun is up again, we are glad we can now look back at Odette, (we are) relieved and comforted with the thought we were spared,” he said.
Moreno, however, lamented that disinformation online circulated anew, where old photographs of destroyed houses and dead people from the previous storm, “Sendong.”
“There were intense moments, still in the end we were spared by the Almighty. And to think, it’s the 10th anniversary of Sendong,” he said.
“Sendong” left a historic mark in the city and Iligan City because despite having only a maximum sustained winds of 95 kph, and being smaller than Odette, it caused at least 2,500 deaths, especially in nearby river communities.
Meanwhile, the Cagayan de Oro City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) was able to record 12,877 individuals or 3,270 families in 49 evacuation sites as of 9 p.m., Thursday, as a result of the forced evacuation implemented by the local government in flood-prone areas.
Many of the areas with massive evacuation were the same villages hit by weather disturbances in the past, most notable among them were Sendong, Pablo, and Vinta.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 10 said it has prepared its standby funds and stockpile assistance consisting of family food packs valuing PHP80.6 million for utilization, while the health department has prepared its medicines and personnel support for rollout.
Meanwhile, in Iligan City, Mayor Celso Regencia ordered the return of evacuees Friday after Odette left the Northern Mindanao Region.
He said in an advisory that the Iligan CSWD and other concerned offices in cooperation with the Barangay Risk Reduction and Management Committees were directed to assist families returning to their homes.
On Thursday, some 987 families or 3,481 individuals evacuated as the water levels in Mandulog and Iligan rivers rose due to continuous heavy rains brought by the typhoon.
The first to impose forced evacuation was the council of Barangay Hinaplanon, the area in Iligan that was badly hit by typhoon Sendong.
Iligan-CSWD officer-in-charge Jec Sacan said the families temporarily staying in identified evacuation centers come from 24 barangays that were affected by Odette.
Sacan said the families were immediately given ready-to-eat food packs by the city government.
Police Maj. Zandrex Panolong, public information officer of the Iligan City Police Office, said they have received a report of a drowning incident but their rescue team has yet to verify which barangay it happened.
“As of 5:00 p.m. today (Dec. 16), there has been no report of destructions of lives and properties. We, however, continue our monitoring and our rescue team is on standby together with our partners,” Panolong said.
At 5:00 p.m., one lane of a bridge in Barangay Tubod was closed for the motorists because of the overflowing of floodwater.
Alex Paña, the Maintenance Supervisor of Mercy Community Hospital in Barangay Tubod, said they sought help from the City Disaster Risk
Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) because the flood water was overflowing to their hospital room.
“We needed to evacuate around 20 patients to the other building (of the hospital) while waiting for the (Iligan) CDRRMO to help us make a hole of the concrete fence to divert the water or else our patients in the rehabilitation will also get flooded. They are afraid of water,” Paña said in a phone interview. (PNA)