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Typhoon Koppu: More Flooding Ahead for Philippines, Government Warns; Calamity Declared North of Manila

 

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For days, massive rainfall totals have been reported in the northern Philippines, where water has flowed down the mountains and into villages, the BBC reported. The floods left many residents stranded on the roofs of their homes, awaiting rescue, the report added.

At least 35 people have died since Koppu's landfall in the Philippines Sunday morning, local time, while flooding rains continue to lash parts of the country with torrential downpours. Koppu was downgraded to a tropical storm late Monday, but remains a deadly threat to the archipelago.

"The center of the tropical storm is now just north of mainland Luzon, so that puts the northern regions of that island – Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera – at risk of additional heavy rainfall through Wednesday. As much as 8 inches (200 millimeters) of additional rain may fall in some areas," said weather.com senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen"In addition, flooding is expected a bit farther south as the 3 feet of rain that fell around Baguio City drains into the rivers that flow toward the coast."

Now, the government is working diligently to ensure residents don't return to their homes yet, as another round of expected rain could trigger more deadly flooding.

"They think it is safe already to go back to their communities but we are preventing them right now," President Benigno Aquino told the BBC. He also declared a calamity for the Nueva Ecija province, north of Manila, the report added.

La Union province was affected by heavy flooding after strong waves, generated by Lando, damaged a seawall in San Fernando City, GMA News Online said. Officials urged hundreds of residents in Barangay Ilocanos to evacuate, with some families staying in evacuation centers. 

Residents of multiple low-lying towns in Pangasinan province were asked to evacuate, as reports said the Agno River could flood in the early hours of Tuesday, ABC-CBN News reported. 

The typhoon triggered head-high floods in 5 villages near Cabanatuan City, Rappler reports, prompting rescue operations in the early hours of Monday, October 19.  Red Cross Bravo team had rescued 64 people in Barangay Sumakab since 3 a.m. Monday, and volunteers using boats and bangkas continued to rescue residents as of Monday at 8 a.m. as many families remained stranded in their homes.

Local police and military officials worked Sunday to rescue those trapped in flooded villages throughout some of the nation's hardest hit provinces. Both Aurora and rice-growing province Nueva Ecija were among those swamped by floodwaters.

The flooding in Nueva Ecija forced residents onto their rooftops Sunday afternoon, reports ABS-CBN News. Certain areas were so inundated that rescuers were unable to reach residents. 

A road in Valdefuente village, Cabanatuan City was impassable except for loaders, firetrucks and military rescue trucks as of 10 p.m. Sunday, according to Rappler. Rescue vehicles were seen cutting through the water throughout the night to reach hundreds of residents waiting for rescue in flooded areas.

Two hospitals, Premiere Medical Center and Eduardo L. Joson Memorial Hospital, have been breached by flood waters and have been the target of several rescue operations already, according to Nueva Ecija provincial government employee Bobby Balagtas.

Many villages further down this road are under water, says Balagtas. Aduas Central, Aduas Sur and Aduas Norte, in particular, experienced head-high floods, leaving many residents stranded on their roofs until help arrived.

Residents who sought shelter in evacuation centers have been cautioned by disaster officials not to return to their homes yet. The large amounts of rainwater accumulated in the mountains will not start coming down into the lowlands until at least Tuesday afternoon, which will likely cause more flooding in areas that have already been inundated.

Though it caused widespread damage, the rainfall from Typhoon Koppu provided much-needed water to several dams still suffering from the effects of El Niño, according to a situation report from the United Nations. The Angat Dam, which supplies a majority of Metro Manila's water needs, saw an increase of 7.2 meters in its water level.

In areas where farming is a way of life, Koppu has been devastating for crops. Vice Mayor Henry Velarde of Nueva Ecija's Jaen town was briefed on the damage and told the AP via telephone that the fields are in bad shape.

"Our rice farms looked like it was ran over by a giant flat iron," he said. "All the rice stalks were flattened in one direction."

There have been power outages, downed trees and flattened crops in some of the top rice-producing areas of the country, according to World Vision teams in Luzon.

“We woke up early this morning to strong rain and howling winds. Already there are uprooted trees blocking roads,” said Joy Maluyo, emergency communications officer for World Vision. “In farm fields, the rice stalks are supposed to be ready for harvest next week. Unfortunately now, they’re drowned in water. Farmers are worried all their efforts are now wasted.” 

The NDRRMC reported complete power outages in 9 provinces, potentially affecting more than nine million people - equal to nearly 10 percent of the entire population of the Philippines and nearly 20 percent of the population of Luzon.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) sent out a severe weather bulletin Saturday at 11 p.m local time. Fishers have been advised not to venture past the seaboards of Luzon and Visayas, as well as the eastern seaboard of Mindanao. Residents in mountainous and low-lying areas of the providences that received the Public Storm Warning Signal (PSWS) have been alerted of possible flash floods and landslides.

Province-wide power outages were also reported in Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Apayao, and Kalinga.

CNN Philippines tweeted that high winds in the town of Baler had toppled trees and ripped the roofs off several buildings early on Sunday morning. Floods and small landslides made 25 roads and bridges impassable.

A total of 2,225 passengers were stranded in 6 districts of Southern Tagalog according to the Philippine Coast Guard as of noon local time on Saturday. The weather bureau PAGASA had placed Batangas under Signal No. 1 which automatically canceled all trips of passenger vessels.