Wednesday, September 30, 2009

‘Ondoy’ more cruel than ‘Milenyo’—townsfolk

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:17:00 09/30/2009

Filed Under: Ondoy, Weather, Disasters (general)

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna – People in this town couldn’t help compare storms.

They had been in the thick of Supertyphoon “Milenyo,” one of the strongest typhoons this century, according to weather experts.

For some of them, however, Tropical Storm “Ondoy” was more cruel.

“We really felt hopeless at that time. Everything happened in a flash and we saved almost nothing,” said Leonildo Olgurpe, 64, recalling the flood flushing his family’s belongings out of his home.

Exactly two years ago, Olgurpe recalled they were also hit by Milenyo.

“Our barangay was also flooded, but this one was worse,” he said.

Olgurpe lives beside old railroad tracks and floods broke through his shanty.

His family sells cooked meals in the village and that’s where he wants to start again.

Olgurpe’s experience was not isolated as hundreds of families in Barangay Tadlac in Los Baños, Laguna were in panic last Saturday.

Mary Perez, 38, cried seeing her home sink in the water.

She was with her five children.

Perez said she had no inkling the rains would be bad as Pagasa raised only storm signal No. 1 in the area.

By noon, the villagers realized the alert level was deceptive.

Many lost their homes.

Danilo Albong Sr., 54, built one quickly from scrap materials. It now houses 14 people.

Rene Diaz, village councilor, said more food and medicines are needed.

Officials said 950 families were hit in the village of Tadlac. In the entire province, 70,000 families felt Ondoy’s fury.

The village is beside Laguna Lake, which some residents said overflowed at the height of Ondoy although there was no independent confirmation of it.

The lake is the largest inland body of water in the Philippines that spans 14 cities and 17 municipalities in the provinces of Laguna and Rizal, and parts of Batangas, Cavite, Quezon and Metro Manila.

About 63 kilometers from Manila, Los Baños is a highly urbanized area that hosts the University of the Philippines and the International Rice Research Institute.

Los Baños town was last hit in late 2006 by Supertyphoon Milenyo which downed power and communication lines and billboards along major roads in the town.

Karen Lapitan, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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