CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – As Typhoon Odette loomed over Northern Mindanao on Thursday, some residents here and of Iligan shared on Facebook how reminiscent the storm was of Typhoon Sendong, which ravaged the two cities exactly 10 years ago.
"We were supposed to have an outreach (activity) on Dec. 17, 2011, with the region’s Department of Social Welfare and Development in Northern Mindanao (DSWD-10). So, on December 16, we packed gifts (for children and women) but ‘Sendong’ changed everything," Angelie Collera said in an interview.
Collera, then a faculty member at the Liceo de Cagayan University, was living in Barangay Balulang, one of the city's affected barangays, when “Sendong” struck.
She said instead of being the one doing the outreach initiative, it was her and their neighbors who became recipients of various relief programs after their homes were destroyed by the flood.
In a Facebook post, Jeorgia Alsonado from Iligan City said she remembered that the roof of their house was blown away by the strong winds brought by “Sendong”, realizing later that many ended up being severely affected by the storm's wrath.
"We could not believe that our uncle would be one of those who lost their lives because they got carried by the flood," she said.
Alsonado, nevertheless, was thankful that his uncle's wife and child survived despite sustaining injuries.
Roselyn Calam Bustillo also shared on Facebook how she lost her brother to “Sendong”, and how worrisome the situation is now with “Odette”.
This is because “Odette” has maximum sustained winds of 195 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 240 kph, based on the readings of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
“Odette” is stronger than “Sendong”, which only had an average of 95 kph sustained winds but left 2,500 people dead.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the city disaster risk reduction and management office here has called for the forced evacuation of communities in nearby rivers, especially in Cagayan and Iponan Rivers.
Some private offices and establishments have suspended work, as floodwaters rose in some flood-prone communities, including barangays that have been identified as a natural "catch-basin" of water in terms of topography.
The DSWD-10 said it has prepared its quick response teams all over the region to distribute family food packs to residents who may be affected by flooding or landslide during the onslaught of “Odette.”
Roshiel Galia, DSWD-10 information officer, said in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon that they have pre-positioned 22,150 family food packs in strategic areas in Bukidnon, Camiguin, and the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, and they are ready to be transported to storm-hit areas anytime.
“These family food packs, distributed all over the region, are ready for augmentation to local government units,” Galia said, adding that their office has two transport trucks that could deliver food assistance if needed.
She said the DSWD-10 also has PHP3 million in standby funds that could be downloaded to local governments as assistance, should the need arise.
Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office (PRO) 10 said its provincial and city search and rescue teams have been deployed and are ready to take action.
In Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, police rescuers have assisted in the evacuation of residents affected by the flood that occurred in at least four barangays on Tuesday ahead of the arrival of "Odette," according to Lt. Col. Michelle Olaivar, PRO-10 spokesperson.
“Aside from assisting in the evacuation, our police precinct in Gingoog has also conducted ‘rekorida’ (mobile public address system) to inform residents to be aware and to get ready for the flood,” she said. (PNA)