Philippines Takes Stock of Damage from Super Typhoon Goni

BenarNews staff
Guinobatan, Philippines
2020-11-02
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201102-PH-typhoon-620.jpeg Survivors examine what is left of their home in the town of Guinobatan, Albay province, Philippines, a day after Super Typhoon Goni pummeled the country, Nov. 2, 2020.
Vincent Go/BenarNews

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET on 2020-11-02

The Philippines assessed the damage Monday after being pummeled a day earlier by the strongest storm of the year, which ravaged agricultural areas, smashed homes and snuffed out power along its path.

Late Monday, civil defense officials reported that at least 20 people were killed as a result of Super Typhoon Goni in Bicol, a region in southeastern Luzon that encompasses Albay and Catanduanes provinces, which were hit hard by the storm.

Ricardo Jalad, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said Albay and Catanduanes bore the brunt of the typhoon’s fury.

“Based on unofficial information, there is widespread damage in agriculture, a lot of houses were destroyed. Those are mainly the damages, along with roads and bridges,” Jalad told a news briefing in Manila.

Mark Timbal, spokesman for the NDRRMC, said a team had been dispatched to establish rapid emergency communications in the areas damaged in the Bicol region.

“We have managed to restore communication links to Catanduanes this morning,” Timbal said. “Electrical posts and mobile phone towers were toppled and there is zero mobile internet in those areas.”

Disaster relief officials were conducting an aerial survey of the island, which sustained vast damage to infrastructure, according to Timbal.

“For every 10 houses, four were totally destroyed,” he said.

Goni was categorized as a super typhoon when it slammed into the eastern seaboard early Sunday, making landfall in the island province of Catanduanes. It quickly blew westward, but spared the densely populated capital of Manila before exiting the country, officials said.

Typhoon Goni, locally known as Rolly, was last tracked crossing the South China Sea as it headed towards Vietnam, but had considerably weakened, state weather forecasters said.

Edcel Lagman, a member of the House of Representatives from Albay, said that almost 50 percent of homes in the San Miguel island municipality were destroyed, and 90 percent of boats owned by local fishermen were either washed out or completely destroyed.

“In Tabaco City, the public market was unroofed, and almost 50 percent of the roofing in all school buildings have been damaged,” Lagman said. “Almost 70 percent of the electric cooperative line posts have also fallen.”

Torrential rains and strong winds dislodged lahar from the slopes of the 2,463-meter (8,080-foot) Mayon Volcano. The deadly cocktail of mud, water and debris – including rocks the size of small cars – smashed through dikes and inundated parts of the town of Guinobatan.

“I climbed on a tree as the waters swept through,” Roel Duque, a farmer whose home in Guinobatan town was swept away by floodwater, said on Teleradyo, an ABS-CBN television cable news channel.

He said other members of his family also escaped, and they all found each other hours after the water had subsided.

“My neighbors were not as lucky, we saw them swept away and most likely killed,” he said.

“Right now, we don’t have a home and we need food,” Duque said, adding that they were temporarily staying at a relative’s house.

Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua said about 15,000 families on the island had been displaced.

“There is still no power supply in the province after 80 percent of its electric facilities were damaged,” Cua said.

 

 

‘Desperate need’

The storm was so powerful that power lines in large areas, including Manila, were out for about 16 hours, many of them toppled by ferocious winds.

In Quezon, Gov. Danilo Suarez said the province was still recovering from a previous storm when Typhoon Goni hit and displaced 24,000 residents.

“There’s huge damage in our agricultural products. This will reach billions. This will take a while before they can recover and be fruit bearing,” he said, noting that 32 districts in the province were still without power.

“They make take a while before the destroyed power lines will be fixed,” he added.

Meanwhile, some 60 people were rescued from chest-deep flood waters that inundated a residential area in Batangas province, south of Manila. There were however, no immediate reports of casualties.

In Virac, the capital city of Catanduanes, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said an initial assessment found that up to 90 percent of homes had been damaged or destroyed.

“This super typhoon has hit so many very vulnerable people head on, including poor farmers, landless laborers and fisher-folk, whose livelihoods had already been disrupted by COVID-19,” IFRC Philippine head Robert Kaufman said.

“The typhoon has left tens of thousands of people in desperate need of support, not only in the days to come but over the coming weeks and months, to ensure their physical and emotional well-being and to restore their livelihoods,” he said.

Gustavo Gonzalez, the U.N. Resident Coordinator in the Philippines, said international agencies were prepared to assist Manila in this emergency, and a rapid needs assessment was already underway.

Just last week, 22 people were killed as Typhoon Molave dumped heavy rains along the same storm path as Goni.

About 20 tropical storms and typhoons batter the Philippines each year, some of them devastating.

Typhoon Goni brought memories of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the country in November 2013, leaving thousands dead and missing.

Jeoffrey Maitem and Jojo Rinoza contributed to this report from Cotabato City and Dagupan City, Philippines.

A police officer walks past a dead water buffalo in the town of Guinobatan, Albay province, Philippines, in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Goni, Nov. 2, 2020. [Vincent Go/BenarNews]
A police officer walks past a dead water buffalo in the town of Guinobatan, Albay province, Philippines, in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Goni, Nov. 2, 2020. [Vincent Go/BenarNews]

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