ODETTE'S ONSLAUGHT. Members of a rescue team help a senior citizen during the evacuation in Tubay, Agusan del Norte on Thursday (Dec. 16, 2021). Thousands of residents in the Caraga Region fled their homes as Typhoon Odette made its first landfall Thursday afternoon in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte. (Photo courtesy of BFP Tubay)

BUTUAN CITY – Thousands of residents from the different provinces in the Caraga region fled their homes as Typhoon Odette pummeled the area with strong winds and heavy rains on Thursday.

The typhoon made its first landfall at around 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte.

In Butuan City, a total of 29 barangays were directly affected by flooding as intermittent rains dampen most parts of the city.

Michiko De Jesus of the city's information office said 2,090 families with 7,113 individuals already evacuated from their homes as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

“Evacuation and rescue operations are still ongoing as flooding continues to affect our barangays. The number of evacuees is expected to increase,” De Jesus told the Philippine News Agency.

She also reported that the water level of the Agusan River, the biggest tributary in the city has reached a warning level.

“The water level at Agusan River is already 1.40 meters. All the major rivers in Agusan del Sur end up here in the Agusan River. The danger level is at 2.0 meters,” De Jesus said.

She added that the city government is evacuating residents in barangays near the Agusan River.

"Odette" also caused power and water interruptions in the city.

In Agusan del Norte, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMC) said around 560 families or 2,106 individuals were evacuated as “Odette” caused flooding in the different towns in the province.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the PDRRMO said it is still expecting reports on the continuing evacuations being conducted in towns.

So far, the evacuated families were from the towns of Tubay, Nasipit, Magallanes, Remedios T. Romualdez, and Cabadbaran City.

In Surigao City, a total of 3,280 families or 11,268 individuals from different barangays fled their homes due to floods.

The evacuees are now temporarily sheltered in 48 evacuation centers in the city.

In Agusan del Sur, evacuations were also conducted as most of the major river systems in the province have swollen due to intermittent rains since Wednesday.

No data yet were provided as to the number of families and persons evacuated in the area as of press time.

In Surigao del Sur, a total of 16,370 families from 17 towns and two cities were evacuated to 225 evacuation centers in the province.

The number of evacuees in Surigao del Sur include Barobo with 232, Bayabas (637), Bislig City (42), Cagwait (2,199), Cantilan (569), Carmen (96), Carrascal (1,375), Cortes (571), Hinatuan (2,265), Lanuza (375), Lianga (806), Lingig (917), Madrid (376), Marihatag (562), San Agustin (187), San Miguel (95), Tagbina (63), Tago (16), and Tandag City (3,668).

There is no update yet in the Province of Dinagat Islands as of press time as contact persons in the area can no longer be reached.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 13 (Caraga) said it has increased the number of family food packs (FFPs) prepositioned in Surigao City.

A total of 5,000 FFPs were prepositioned at the compound of the Department of Public Works and Highways and another 2,850 in Barangay Taft, all in Surigao City.

The DSWD-13 added that a total of 2,500 FFPs were also prepositioned in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, 1,900 in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, and 2,322 in Fort Poyohon, Butuan City.

The prepositioned FFPs are worth PHP6,557,622 while the agency said that it has still a standby fund of PHP5,229,583 as of Thursday. (PNA)