FLOODED. Rice farms in Barangay Bernabe, Laoag City remain submerged in floodwater on Wednesday (Aug. 24, 2022) due to the effects of Severe Tropical Storm Florita. Mayor Michael Keon said there is a need to dredge creeks, get rid of water lilies, and improve the city's drainage system to prevent flooding. (Photo by Leilanie Adriano)

LAOAG CITY – Strong winds and heavy rains brought about by Severe Tropical Storm Florita have left over PHP10 million worth of initial damage, the Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) bared Wednesday.

Based on its report, the PDRRMC said the biggest damage was to infrastructure which included an old bridge in Barangay Badio that collapsed on Monday afternoon due to raging waters.

Other ongoing flood control projects and a temporary bridge in Nagrebcan, San Nicolas town were also washed out.

“The damage could have been worst but we are thankful the storm did not directly hit us,” said Marcel Tabije, head of the PDRRMC.

As of press time, the Department of Agriculture has initially reported around PHP3.01 million in damage, affecting 310 farmers in the province. This translates to 220 metric tons of loss in production volume covering 628 hectares of rice and other high-value crops.

According to the DA, additional damage and losses are expected in areas affected by Florita, pending an ongoing assessment and field validation by agriculture technicians.

Except for the reported drowning of two cows, two carabaos, and five pigs in Batac City and in the towns of Pinili and Burgos during a flash flood, no other typhoon-related casualty was reported in the province.

With a total of 827 affected families in the province, Provincial Social Welfare and Development officer Lilian Rin said they have prepared more than enough food packs for relief operations.

Before the storm made landfall in Maconacon, Isabela on Tuesday, a pre-emptive evacuation was conducted in Badoc town to ensure that those living in areas highly susceptible to flooding and rain-induced landslide were transferred to evacuation centers where food packs have been prepared courtesy of the local government unit.

Following an ocular inspection on the extent of typhoon damage here, Mayor Michael Keon said in an interview Wednesday that his administration will try to find solutions to address the massive flooding in downtown Laoag as well as in rural communities where the new bypass road is being constructed.

As recommended by the city engineering office, the city’s drainage system needs to be improved to accommodate the volume of water during heavy rains.

The massive growth of water lilies under the bridge in Barangay Cataban also needs to be removed while the city's creeks and the Padsan River need dredging too.

To resolve the flooding problem in Batac City, Mayor Albert Chua said a diversion canal must be constructed within the 14-kilometer Quiaoit River that overflows during heavy rains.

“We are done with the planning stage and identification of the right of way but we have yet to find funding for the project which needs about PHP300 million,” said Chua, adding that the city government could not do it alone.

Hoping for support from the national government, Chua said the project can be done in stages as a multi-year project.

"What we can do right now is prevention to avoid loss of lives and further damage to property," he said. (PNA)