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Residents head for evacuation centers amid rising floodwaters spawned by Typhoon Pedring in Barangay Tañong, Malabon.  (Photo by Kara David)


MANILA — Residents of affected areas started picking up the pieces Wednesday as Typhoon “Pedring” (international name Nesat) moved away from the Philippines, leaving at least 21 people dead and 33 others missing in different parts of the country.

At the height of Pedring’s fury, powerful storm surges in Manila Bay crashed over seawalls, flooding a hospital, the U.S. Embassy and a five-star hotel.

As this developed, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said a tropical cyclone spotted off the Pacific Ocean, to be named “Quiel” (international name Nalgae), is expected to enter Philippine waters within the next 24 hours and is likely to cross Northern Luzon, the same area hit by Pedring.

Electricity had been restored in most of the affected areas Wednesday, but the streets near Manila Bay were strewn with fallen trees and trash washed ashore.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, only around three percent or roughly 190,000 customers of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces were still without power.

It was estimated that 85 percent of Meralco’s customers were affected by power outages at the height of the typhoon after flying debris, tarpaulins, billboards, floods, felled trees and strong winds damaged power lines.

Metro Manila residents started cleaning up while financial markets, government offices and some schools reopened.

The Metro Rail Transit resumed its operation.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, storm warning signal no. 1 remained hoisted over Zambales, La Union and Pangasinan.

“There is a big chance that (Quiel) will intensify into a typhoon and again it will enhance the southwest monsoon,” PAGASA supervising undersecretary Graciano Yumul said in a text message to the Philippine Star.

The other weather disturbance, to be named “Ramon,” was not monitored by PAGASA Wednesday.

Yumul said Quiel could be as strong as Pedring and is forecast to make landfall over Cagayan Saturday.

He said Quiel is likely to intensify into a typhoon before hitting land as it gathered the cloud circulation of another weather system and Quiel could affect Northern and Western Luzon, including Metro Manila, starting Friday evening.

These areas were hit by Pedring last Tuesday.

Yumul said that storm surges, which happened along Roxas Boulevard in Manila and other parts of Luzon, could happen again during the occurrence of Quiel.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Quiel was spotted at 1,330 kilometers east of Northern Luzon.

Pedring was last spotted at 520 kms west northwest of Baguio City with maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 160 kph.

It was forecast to move west northwest at 19 kph.

PAGASA lifted all public storm warning signals in areas affected by the typhoon Wednesday afternoon but Pedring will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon and bring scattered to widespread rains over the rest of Western Luzon.

Malacañang said it would focus on assisting the victims instead of pointing fingers, even as it expressed satisfaction with the way the agencies have been working to mitigate the impact of the typhoon.

National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) head Benito Ramos said six of the fatalities came from the cities of Valenzuela and Caloocan in Metro Manila; one from Bacnotan, La Union, one from Pamplona, Cagayan; one from Sula, Pangasinan; one from Isabela; two from Hingyong, Ifugao; two from San Jose Del Monte; two from Sta. Maria, in Bulacan; two in Botolan, Zambales and one from Candaba, Pampanga in Central Luzon; one from Barangay Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal; one in Camarines Sur, one from Catanduanes, in Bicol region.

Most of the 33 reported missing were fishermen from Quezon province, Aurora Province, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, and Masbate, who set out to sea despite the prevailing bad weather system.

Those injured were either hit by flying objects, figured in vehicular accident, or were pinned down by uprooted trees along Pedring’s path.

Water world

Ramos said that Pedring has displaced 35,273 families or a total of 171,570 individuals from the eight regions ravaged by strong winds and heavy rainfall.

Thousands of Marikina residents returned to their homes after the water level of Marikina River deflated to 16.1 meters in the afternoon, thankful that there was no repeat of the tropical storm “Ondoy” tragedy in 2009.

Navotas and Malabon, a perennial flood-prone city, were placed under a state of calamity and were still under floodwaters as evacuees remained at evacuations centers.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson were due to inspect the polder (earthen) dikes that were breached by storm surges and the high tide in Barangays Panghulo and Dampalit in Malabon.

In Bulacan, Obando, submerged by water because of the damage to dams, and Meycauayan, whose 17 barangays are experiencing flooding, were also placed under a state of calamity.

The breach in Bulo dam also flooded Daang Maharlika in San Miguel, which links up with Gapan in Nueva Ecija, and inundated 12 barangays, causing local officials to evacuate 610 families.

Traffic ground to a halt in Caranglan, Nueva Ecija at noon following a landslide that closed the main road gateway of Cagayan Valley in Dalton Pass.

Provincial administrator Jim Valerio said the flooding in San Miguel town caused thousands of motorist to be stranded along the highway.

Massive flooding was also reported in at least 382 barangays in Isabela’s 20 municipalities and two cities as Magat dam overshot its 193-meter critical level.

Eighty-eight of the 89 barangays in Cabanatuan City remain under floodwaters, affecting thousands of residents.

A total of 61 road sections in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, National Capital Region, and Cordillera remain impassable due to flooding, landslide, mudflows and fallen debris.