October 2, 2011

Confirmed: Five Towns in Ifugao Province Isolated for Several Days

(02Oct2011 by: ifugao posts)
Two strong typhoons (Pedring and Quiel) have pounded the province of Ifugao and other provinces in Northern Luzon bringing tremendous floods in low-lying areas and enormous land slides in the uplands. In the case of Ifugao, five of its towns including Lagawe are still isolated until this time with damaged roads and bridges. Several electric posts were down making communication lines difficult.

5 Ifugao towns cut off

Typhoons “Pedring” and “Quiel” have isolated five towns in Ifugao, including the capital of Lagawe, since Wednesday, leaving people who tend the country’s famous rice terraces with dwindling rice supplies and without additional fuel for rescue and clearing operations.
Ifugao Representative Teodoro Baguilat Jr. on Sunday said he navigated through “an obstacle course of large rocks, fallen trees and slippery and muddy roads” from Kiangan town to Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, for a clear mobile phone signal to tell his province’s predicament to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Baguilat was home last week to bury his father and had been busy with family affairs when Pedring veered toward Ifugao.
“There is no power now in Kiangan (Baguilat’s hometown). Fuel [for generator sets that kept the provincial government and hospitals open during the onslaught of Pedring] has run out. [The absence of fuel] has hampered clearing operations … A body still needs to be excavated in Banaue,” he said.
An e-mailed report sent by the provincial government to the Inquirer on Friday said the province’s fuel supply would not last beyond a week and grocery stocks were being rationed to last for two weeks.
No power yet
Power supply has yet to be restored since it was cut off on Wednesday.
“Rice is running out and isolated Ifugao towns are not getting relief fast enough … Nature dumped its fury on Ifugao for five days with two strong typhoons. We are running out of rice in Banaue and Hungduan towns, and [some] tourists are stranded in those [areas],” Baguilat said.
The lawmaker said storms and heavy rains this year had scarred the rice terraces with landslides, delaying Ifugao’s attempts to encourage farmers to continue nurturing the centuries-old mountainside rice farms. The terraces have been listed among the endangered World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).
Ifugao became the custodian of the rice terraces after then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo abolished the national agency overseeing its rehabilitation.
Governor Eugene Balitang said Pedring damaged P138 million worth of crops in Ifugao.
Landslides claimed four lives in Hingyon town, including two children. Sixteen people were hurt from typhoon-related incidents while another person was reported missing.
When Quiel struck on Saturday, 11 more people were hurt, reports from Baguilat’s office showed.
“We need long-term solutions to slides triggered by typhoons. Without solving the slides that have increased due to climate change and deforestation, tourism and continued terrace agriculture will always be threatened,” Baguilat said.
“Already a huge slide has scarred the postcard perfect Batad terraces [in Banaue town] … Without help from MalacaƱang, Ifugao will revert to its old status as one of the country’s poorest communities,” he added.
Photographs sent by the provincial government showed the collapsed Burnay Bridge in Kiangan town and residents crossing the river through shallow sections. Balitang asked the provincial engineering office to put up a 74-meter footbridge.
Fuel trucks
Olive Luces, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) director in the Cordillera, said relief workers had sent fuel trucks to Ifugao through alternate roads.
“The Banaue-Lagawe Road, which usually takes 45 minutes to traverse, was blocked by 10 major slides. Commuters had to hike for two hours [on Thursday] to reach Lagawe,” Board Member Robert Mangyao said in the provincial government report.
The Department of Public Works and Highways said its personnel were working to open sections of the road linking Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao and Mt. Province, the Banaue-Mayoyao-Aguinaldo-Isabela Road, the Guihob Arco Bridge along the Banaue-Mayoyao Road, and a section of the Banaue-Hungduan-Benguet Road.
As of 8 a.m. on Sunday, 10 other mountain roads in Apayao, Kalinga, Mt. Province and Benguet remained closed due to landslides, OCD reports said.
But roads to Baguio City remain open and are being used by truckers ferrying vegetables from Benguet farms through the Halsema Highway to Metro Manila, the OCD said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
Originally posted: 10:30 pm | Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

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