‘Gener’ kills 3, displaces thousands

MANILA (7th Update, 5:23 p.m.) — Tropical Storm “Gener” (international name: Saola) battered Metro Manila and nearby provinces with heavy rains and gusty winds since Sunday night, killing at least three and displacing 3,000 families.
Executive Director Benito Ramos of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said three people had died in the storm and another six were missing.
Ernest Flores, one of the men who died, had an asthma attack while he and other passengers were being rescued from M/V Shuttle Roro 1, an inter-island ferry that ran aground in rough seas late Sunday off central Romblon province.
The Philippine Coast Guard said the vessel with 57 passengers and 16 rolling cargoes onboard capsized at Looc Bay in Romblon due to rough seas caused by the storm, currently in the vicinity of extreme Northern Luzon.
Initial information received from Coast Guard Station in Romblon provided the ill-fated vessel was on its way Batangas from Dumaguit via Odiongan when it encountered rough sea condition.
The ship decided to take shelter at Looc Bay, but it accidentally ran aground about two nautical miles Southwest of Agoho Point, Looc, Tablas Island, Romblon, around 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Captain Felix Solidio, master of the vessel, declared “abandon ship” when the vessel started to take in water and directed all passengers to transfer to the life raft.
Immediately, the Coast Guard dispatched a rescue team onboard two motorized banca to conduct search and rescue operation to said distressed vessel.
Upon arrival, the ship was found to be already 70 percent on fire. All passengers were eventually rescued.
Separately, two barges that drifted off of a Manila pier smashed into a row of wooden shanties on stilts in the city’s Tondo slum community, destroying dozens of huts but causing no injuries.

Coast Guard officer Noli Casiano said residents fled from the wind and waves before the empty barges rammed their homes.

“We fled to safety as the waves suddenly grew strong and the wind howled,” Ivy Rosario, a mother of two, told The Associated Press.

“When we came back, everything was destroyed,” said Rosario, pointing to the debris-littered waters near where her home once stood. Some villagers jumped into the water to try to salvage floating belongings.
Another casualty due to Gener was Ronald Necor, 33, who died of drowning in Antique.
The storm has affected 5,816 families or 28,631 individuals in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Western Visayas. Nearly 2,900 families equivalent to 14,303 persons are still housed in evacuation centers as of Monday, the NDRRMC said.

Inclement weather caused by Gener pushed the government to suspend classes in all levels in Metro Manila and work in state agencies, while 10 domestic flights were cancelled and 11 trips bound for Manila were diverted to the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

Carrying winds of 105 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 135 kph, Gener is moving north northwest at 11 kph.

The storm is expected to move past Taiwan on Thursday but will still enhance the southwest monsoon that will affect western sections of Luzon and Visayas, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

As a result, the water elevation at gateless La Mesa Dam in Quezon City reached 79.82 meters as of 2 p.m. Monday, which is 0.33 meter below the spilling level of 80.15 meters.

The NDRRMC said the rising water level at the La Mesa Dam causing excess water to overflow is expected to affect the low-lying areas along the Tullahan River, Fairview, Novaliches and the Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) area.

With this, the NDRRMC advised all the residents living downstream from the dam “to be alert for possible increase in the water level downstream.

Gates were closed at Ipo Dam in Bulacan but the Bustos Dam released water from its two gates.
Despite the bad weather, Ramos still found a reason to cheer.

“We haven’t monitored any damage to infrastructure or agriculture. In fact, the rain brought by Gener was a welcome relief for farmers in Northern Luzon especially in areas that have no irrigation services. The farmers were able to plant rice,” he said in a phone interview.

While Luzon gets spared from taking the brunt of the impact from Gener, Taiwan will likely not be so lucky, said senior meteorologist Rob Miller of accuweather.com.

He said the storm will encounter favorable environmental conditions, allowing it to strengthen into a typhoon before reaching Taiwan.

“Current computer guidance suggests Saola will slow its forward speed early next week, perhaps even stalling just east of Taiwan. This will allow several days of heavy rainfall to impact Taiwan, leading to life-threatening flooding; strong winds will also cause some damage, especially over eastern Taiwan,” he said.


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