BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Death toll caused by super typhoon Odette in Negros Occidental yesterday further rose to 31, with Sipalay City, dubbed as the province’s jewel of the south, recording the highest number of fatalities at 16 as of yesterday.
Provincial Disaster Management Team head, Dr. Zeaphard Caelian reported yesterday that majority of the Sipalay City fatalities drowned in floods.
The Sipalay City Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office reported that search and retrieval for the 16 missing individuals are still underway as of press time. But PDMT reported that 50 persons remain missing in Sipalay City.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson is set to declare Negros Occidental under a state of calamity, after concurrence of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on December 21.
With such declaration, the provincial government of Negros Occidental and LGUs may able to utilize their Quick Response Funds to address situation in their respective localities.
Mayor Irene Montilla already placed Isabela town under the state of calamity.
Southern Negros was badly hit by the typhoon, especially Kabankalan City, where 60 percent of its areas flooded by waist-deep water on December 17, according to the Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council.
Lacson reported that 12,105 houses were either destroyed or partially damaged by the typhoon.
Typhoon Odette also damaged water systems, and potable water is now the main problem in southern Negros.
Lacson they will set up refilling stations in Kabankalan City and Ilog areas to initially address the needs of potable water shortage, as he appealed for assistance with bottled water, among others.
A day after the typhoon hit Negros, some towns and cities in the province were initially isolated as concrete power poles and fallen trees blocked national roads. Communications were still down in many areas as of press time.
Rescue operations were hampered by communication problems and an island-wide black out. Many areas in Negros Occidental are still experiencing no electricity and no cellular phone signals.
Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena reported an initial damage of P400 million worth of broilers, gamefowls, layers, cattles and goats, and P87, 209 in crops.
BRP Nueva Vizcaya of the Philippine Coast Guard has been deployed to Sipalay City from Iloilo City.
On board are cargoes for distribution to affected families of Typhoon Odette such as house repair kits shelter kits, hygiene kits, family kits and a rubber boat with engine. *