Swathes of land swamped in northern Philippines after typhoon; at least 6 killed

Residents wade through waist-deep flood waters after Typhoon Noru, in San Miguel, Philippines, on Sept 26, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
Residents wade through flood water caused by typhoon Noru in San Miguel on Sept 26, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A resident inspects his destroyed house in the aftermath of Typhoon Noru in San Miguel on Sept 26, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
A volunteer helps clean a muddied elementary school classroom in San Miguel on Sept 26, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BULACAN, Philippines - Typhoon Noru left heavy flooding across several northern provinces in the Philippines, as the authorities rushed to get aid to thousands of evacuees. 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr saw for himself the extent of the damage caused by Noru after he conducted an aerial survey on Monday. He later said: "We may have gotten lucky, at least this time, a little bit."

“You might think that we overdid it. There is no such thing as overkill when it comes to disasters," he said.

At least six people, including five emergency responders, were killed.

The five rescue workers were killed in San Miguel town, Bulacan province, the governor Daniel Fernando told DZMM radio.

"We lost heroes who were there to save lives.  But we didn't really expect this to happen. It was really an accident," said Mr Fernando.

Lieutenant-Colonel Romualdo Andres, chief of police in San Miguel, said the rescuers were wading through floodwaters when a wall beside them collapsed, sending them into a fast current.

A landslide in Burdeos town on Polillo island, where Noru first made landfall, killed an elderly man, according to the local disaster response office.

Floods submerged swathes of farmland and communities in the main island of Luzon, video and images shared by Mr Marcos' office showed, after the category 3 typhoon dumped heavy rains and brought strong winds after making landfall at the weekend.

The stock market, government offices and schools in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon – home to half the Philippine population of some 110 million – were closed on Monday, as the authorities raced to deal with the aftermath of Noru.

“This is the worst flooding that happened here,” Mr Elpidio de la Cruz, who lives in Bulacan, told Reuters, as he stood in knee-deep water outside his house.  “The water reached the second floor.”

Another Bulacan resident, Mr Teody Simbulan, appealed for aid. “People here need help like food, water and medicine,” he said.

Mr Marcos ordered supplies to be airlifted and equipment be provided to help the cleanup in worst-affected communities. He also directed officials to provide emergency power to cut-off areas.

Nearly 75,000 people were evacuated from their homes before the typhoon hit, as the weather bureau warned heavy rains could cause “serious flooding” in vulnerable areas, trigger landslides and destroy crops.

But on Monday morning there was no sign of the widespread devastation many had feared.

“We were ready for all of this,” said Mr Marcos.

The Philippines sees an average of 20 tropical storms yearly. PHOTO: REUTERS

The entire provinces of Nueva Ecija and Aurora, north of the capital remain without power supply, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said at a televised briefing with Mr Marcos on Monday. Generators will be sent to these areas, Mr Lotilla said.

Burdeos town bore the brunt of Noru.

Ferocious winds ripped off some roofs and brought down large trees, while heavy rain flooded riverside houses, said Mr Ervin Calleja, 49, a teacher.

“It was really worrisome,” he told AFP by phone.  “The wind was whistling, and it had heavy rains. That’s the more dangerous part.”

Flimsy houses along the coast were damaged and some crops were wiped out.

“Here at the town centre all banana trees were flattened, 100 per cent,” said Ms Liezel Calusin, a member of the civil defence team in Polillo.

“We still have no electricity, but the phones are working,” she said.

In Banaba village near Manila, Mr Terrence Reyes , 25, fled his riverside home with his family and neighbours as floodwaters rose during the storm.  They returned home Monday to find their belongings sodden and caked in mud.

“We just have to throw them away and start over again,” Reyes, 25, said. “It happens each time there is a storm here.”

Typhoon Noru weakened after passing through the Philippines on Sunday night and was headed out over the South China Sea towards Vietnam, where authorities were racing to prepare for its arrival late on Tuesday.

The government has warned of the threat of Noru, anticipating what it said was one of the biggest typhoons to hit Vietnam in 20 years.

Photos from state media showed people rushing to fortify homes, anchor boats and stock up on food.

Schools have been closed and boat owners ordered to stay ashore in central provinces, while the government said it was ready to evacuate about a million people if necessary.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, sees an average of 20 tropical storms yearly. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, killed 6,300 people. REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AFP

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