1 dead, thousands displaced as ‘Samuel’ cuts through Samar

TACLOBAN CITY – Floodwaters, brought about by Tropical Depression Samuel, wreaked havoc in low-lying communities in three Samar provinces killing one person and forcing thousands of residents to move to higher grounds on Wednesday afternoon.

Residents of Magsaysay village in Palapag, Northern Samar found the body of their neighbor Ronel Quibal, 23 past noon on Wednesday. He went missing late Tuesday afternoon when raging waters swept him away while passing a flooded road aboard a motorcycle.

The Office of Civil Defense regional office here received reports of massive evacuation in the towns of San Roque, Mapanas, Pambujan, Palapag, Gamay, Lope de Vega, and San Isidro in Northern Samar province.

Floods also submerged some villages in Catubig town.

In Eastern Samar, evacuations were reported in Taft, Can-avid, Oras, San Julian, and Hernani. Flooding also displaced thousands of families in the towns of Arteche, Guiuan, and Sulat though some families opted to stay in their homes.

Other areas with evacuated families are Paranas and Calbayog City in Samar; Kawayan, Biliran; and Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte.

Power supply is still down as of Wednesday noon in the towns of Catubig, Las Navas, and Lapinig, Northern Samar as well as in the island towns of Almagro, Tarangnan, and Zumarraga in Samar province.

Clearing operations by maintenance personnel of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are still ongoing in landslide-hit road sections in Northern Samar and Eastern Samar.

Mudslides have isolated the interior villages of Capacujan, Bangon, Bagay and Osmeña in Palapag, Northern Samar.

Another landslide temporarily blocked traffic flow in Binaloan village, Taft, Eastern Samar. The road section is within the major road network that connects Samar province to Borongan City, the capital of Eastern Samar province.

Landslide debris buried a makeshift house in San Pablo in Taft, Eastern Samar, but no one was hurt, according to reports reaching the OCD regional office.

Soil erosion also damaged some classrooms in Catubig, Northern Samar. Damage assessment is still ongoing.

The Philippine National Police reported that at least 1,868 Luzon-bound travelers were stranded in ports in Northern Samar province as the state weather bureau raised a storm warning signal in Leyte and Samar provinces.

In Arteche, Eastern Samar, Mayor Roland Evardone said that as of Wednesday noon, nine villages located along river banks are still inundated.

“We had deployed rescue teams and assessment teams to update us on the situation and extent of damages,” Evardone said in a phone interview.

More than a thousand families were displaced by flooding, prompting the local government to provide food packs to affected families.

The Eastern Samar Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office also reported evacuations in Sulat, San Policarpo, and Llorente towns.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said Tropical Depression Samuel made its first two landfalls on Wednesday in Borongan City around 2 a.m. and Daram, Samar at 4 a.m. Roel Amazona/PNA-northboundasia.com