Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mga Kuwento ni Bagyong Basyang

I’ve chased storms myself, so I know firsthand that chasing storms is risky.  I always keep a safe distance and practice important safety measures that would get me home to share my stories.

But Tuesday’s chase was different. There were four of us —Allen Doydora (DYRD), Dave Responte (DYTR), Helen Castaño and I—“chasing”  typhoon “Basyang” (internationally known as “Sanba”) on Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 13) to deliver information.

Reporters take you to chase the wind. Your “storm chasers”
(l)- Leo Udtohan, Dave Responte (of DYTR) and
Allen Doydora (of DYRD) during the coverage of typhoon “Basyang”.
Photo by Helen Castaño
 As a stringer for GMA News for the past 18 years, I know covering typhoons is extremely dangerous. I don’t have a choice since we need a visual proof that persuade people that what they see in news is real and matters to them.

I told Allen, Dave and Helen not to push the limits of safety and common sense. We didn’t have equipments like those professional storm chasers in the US.

As we travelled south, your “storm chasers” listened to weather reports, while Dave and Allen took their listeners to chase the wind to give their listeners their first information at the threat posed by such a storm.

 In Loay town, we found out that there was no killer shark washed up on a beach on Tuesday, according to Loay Police Station and local disaster risk reduction and management office.

We saw ricefields flooded in Candijay and Alicia towns.  While visiting the evacuation center in Candijay, Basyang started showing her fierce. We decided to have a quick dinner in Alicia with Allen’s family.

It got too dark to continue the chase, especially since we were without adequate gear — a dangerous rookie mistake. We left Alicia at 7 p.m, amidst thunder and heavy rains.

Mary Ann Berto, a resident of Barangay Guinsularan in Duero town, showed several pieces of woods left after her house stood was washed out. Teaching materials and several equipments such as computers, laptops and sewing machines were destroyed when floodwater mixed with mud swamped Guinsularan High School and Guinsularan Elem. School in Duero, Bohol. Leo Udtohan
Unfortunately, our vehicle got stuck in high water and stalled out in Guindulman town. We pushed it off the road while it was raining hard with lighting and thunder. We decided to stay inside the vehicle for our safety while watching the floodwaters rising gradually.

We stayed for about 30 minutes as we remained quiet, in awe of what was happening in front of our eyes. However, Dave and Allen didn’t fail to update their listeners.

When Dave fixed it, we moved slowly until we reached Guinsularan in Duero, particularly Guinsularan High School. We were stranded since the highway was no longer passable even for big buses.

We saw the school submerged in water. A portion of the concrete fence of the school had fallen due to the strong rampaging floodwater.

Residents said it was the first that they experienced such extent of flooding where a concrete fence of a school had been damaged to such degree.

Local rescuers told us that we would respond to the three residents who had to climb to the roofs of their houses when the rainwater flooded their houses.

At 9 p.m., when the rains stopped for the meantime, some teachers waded through knee-to-waist deep flood water to check the school.  They only entered the principal’s office where materials and equipment such as computers were all wet.

Affected families in Sitio Punta in Barangay Tabajan, Guindulman town, Bohol, have to stay temporarily in a chapel or with their relatives after their houses were washed out and destroyed on Wednesday dawn. Leo Udtohan
Allen and Dave reported the situation on dyRD’s Tagbilaran By Nite (with Allen’s co-host Jagna Councilor Anthony Aniscal) and dyTR’s Tomorrow’s News Tonight (anchored by Lito Responte)

We arrived in Tagbilaran City at 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.  It was a long journey. Since, Allen and Dave came home late after the coverage, they were thinking of sweet surprises and ideas to please their wives for Valentine’s Day, or else, they would experience the wrath of “Basyang.” 

I returned to Guinsularan on Wednesday afternoon to see the devastation.

When students and teachers returned to Guinsularan High School on Wednesday morning, they would be cleaning their muddied classrooms.

Teacher Lourdes Jordan went to the school early to check her classroom. Although she anticipated it, the damage still shocked her.

“Nothing was left. It destroyed our teaching materials,” she said.

She said more newly delivered textbooks for senior high school students, new sewing machines and some computers could no longer be used because these were destroyed when floodwater mixed with mud swamped the school.

But students, with their parents and some volunteers, helped the teachers and school staff in cleaning up and repairing the school.

 “Report mi, report mga bata, nagtibangay mi limpyo. Ganiha naa sab mga parents pud boluntaryo ra. Yes, nagbayanihan..arun makahuman og limpyo para maka-klase og sayo,” she said.

Teacher Lourdes said classes would be suspended until Friday since they needed time to clean up the classrooms.

Provincial Board Member Dionisio Victor Balite, who checked the school on Wednesday afternoon, said he would ask his colleagues in the Provincial Board to donate computers to the school because these got wet during the flood.

“Sa akong nahibaw-an mga computers, lisud raba ang computer mabasa replacement jud na. Wala na chance magamit pagbalik. So, siguro sa mga kauban nakong mga Sangguniang Panlalawigan, hatag lang ta og tagsa nga computer para sa Guinsularan High School,” he added.

The flood and mud also damaged the desks, chairs, teaching materials and student records at the Guinsularan Elementary School (Annex) which is beside the high school.

At the Guinsularan Elem. School (Annex) which is beside the high school, floodwater and mud damaged desks, chairs, teaching materials and student records.

“Basyang” also flooded several houses in Duero and Guindulman towns.

The family of Mary Ann Berto, 38, of Barangay Guinsularan in Duero evacuated to their relative when it was raining heavily on Tuesday night. The thunder and lightning caused her to scare more. When she woke up the following day, she only saw only several pieces of wood left in her house.

“The house is all gone,” said Berto who was not able to save things. “Kumpyansa mi kay di siguro dad-on among balay kay pila ka beses ingana kay wala man, okay raman. Gabii kay grabe jud.” she said.

Her eldest son, 15-yer-old Edmar Jun, who is a grade 9 student at Guinsularan High School lost his school supplies. But like other students, he went to school to help for cleaning out the mud.

In Guindulman town, some houses were destroyed and still submerged on water.

Gerardo Besas, 47, a resident of Barangay Tabajan, said his family only evacuated to Trinidad Elem. School at past midnight on Wednesday when the water rose to neck-deep.

Four houses were “washed out” after a flood and four houses were destroyed in Sitio Punta in the same barangay.

Most of the residents evacuated to the school at dawn Wednesday.

Virgilia Betonio-Bernido, 44, said their family soundly asleep on Tuesday night. She said the sea was calm with little rainshowers, but they woke up when the water entered their sala.

Provincial Board Member Dionisio Victor Balite and
 Rammel Cagulada went to Guinsularan High School in Duero, Bohol,
 to check the devastation on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 14, 2018.
Balite said he would ask his colleagues to donate computers to the school.
Leo Udtohan
She woke up her children to go to the evacuation center.

“Nakatug man mi. Pagmata pa namo diha na ang tubig sa among purtahan. Gipukaw among mga anak. Dayun mi gawas kay ang tubig diha na sa among sala,” she said.

When she returned, what left only was her close closet (aparador) as her house was washed-out.

The semi-concrete house of Dominga Bernido, 42, was also destroyed. The cemented floor broke into half.

The affected families were safe, although were given relief goods from the local government, they wished they could build a new house.

 “Arang lisura unsaon jud namo pagbangon namo diri sa among panimay kay naguba naman jud ni pag-ajo. Maayo unta naay malumong kasing-kasing nga mutabang sa among bay unta pud,” said Dominga.

Virgilia said they would stay temporarily in a small chapel in the sitio until such time they could build a new house.
 Basyang also flooded villages and farms in Candijay town, a major rice-growing area.

More than 300 people were evacuated from the villages of Cadapdapan, Panadtaran, Cambane, Cogtong, San Isidro, Poblacion and Panas, which were considered landslide and flood prone areas, when the typhoon crossed the province, said local disaster risk reduction and management officer Jeryl Lacang-Fuentes.

Two houses in Sitio Gabayan in Barangay La Union owned by Romeo Bautista and Rosalinda Macarayan were damaged. There were three major landslides along Barangay Cambane, said Fuentes.

One was electrocuted when a cluster of coconut fruits fell and tripped an electric line. The victim suffered minor burn.

The flooding in a number of farming areas triggered harvest failures and damage to farmland.

Fuentes said initial estimate was that 180 hectares (444.79 acres) of rice have been damaged or destroyed.

In Barangay Panadtaran, 14 hectares of rice that were almost mature for harvest have been damaged or destroyed, according to village chief Rolly Limbangaon.

He said most of the palays were to be harvested next month.

Ursulina Pahuyo, 71, a resident of Barangay Lungsod-daan in Candidjay town, said she had huge losses when her small swathe of farmland was flooded.

 “Akong kahumayan nalunupan tungod sa bagyong basyang. Siyempre, masayang kay gutom walay maani. saying ang gastos, mahal ang suhol sa tawo,” said Pahuyo who tried to salvage what she can from her flooded ricefield on Wednesday.

The typhoon drenched Tagbilaran City overnight but caused no widespread flooding. The sprawling capital of 105,000 people has been hit hard by floods in some areas because of poor infrastructure and clogged drainage and water canals.

“Basyang” also destroyed some roads and bridges. A portion of the Guinacot Bridge in Guindulman was destroyed and a bridge in Abachanan in Sierra – Bullones town was not passable on Wednesday after it a portion was destroyed.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, which is still assessing the damage brought by Basyang, said that no casualties were reported.

As we would say in reference to anything in excess, when it rains...

Let’s just pray that no more (heavy) rains will fall.

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