MANILA — Citing initial information obtained from damage assessment overflights of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US Joint Special Operation Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), destruction caused by Typhoon “Ruby” during its initial onslaught in Samar and the Bicol provinces appears to be light.
This was announced by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang during a briefing at the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
He said the aircraft took off Monday from Zamboanga City and flew over key areas in Samar and Bicol provinces.
“At the point of entry which was from Gamay (Northern Samar) to Dolores to Borongan (both in Eastern Samar) it can be seen, public and business structures appeared intact, no major damages observed except for a few (houses) with roofs that were missing, roads were not blocked, were passable and tricycles were seen running together with few 4×4 vehicles, electric posts were not damaged, piers, ports were intact with a few motor bancas berthed,” Catapang said.
He added that one of the aircrew saw one bridge not usable by heavy vehicles due to erosion.
“Along the northern coast of Samar, noticeable was numerous presence of smoke in the open spaces indicating of burning of debris and rubbish, since it was still daytime, it was too early to observe any lights to mean the presence of electrical supply, no public infrastructure observed destroyed, no homes were observed with major damage with a few having missing parts of their roofs, no damage was observed to house or homes along the coastline, no tree were observed fallen,” the AFP chief said.
“While (overhead) in Catarman (Northern Samar) residents near the airport were observed in high spirits, with many waving to the aircraft, no homes were observed with major damage and only a few having parts of their roof stripped off, no public and business infrastructures were observed damaged, per report of the Brigade Commander Col. (Germenegildo) Aquino,” Catapang stated.
He added that the southern coast of Bicol Region was untouched. In Masbate, no damage was observed with a lot of ground activity observed indicating numerous four-wheel vehicles, tricycles and people in the central business district, doing their day-to-day activities.
And due to the low visibility, the aircraft did not land but made a low pass on the Masbate airport and the city proper.
In the rapid disaster assessment survey in Dolores, Eastern Samar, Catapang said it was indicated that there were damages on nipa huts and light infrastructure including those near the seashore. Damages are still undetermined on concrete houses “where their roofing were destroyed or minor damages for concrete houses.”
“Of course as regards the public facilities and buildings, roofings were destroyed. School roofings were destroyed. Utilities — no electricity. There is a minimal movement of public utility vehicles and the public roads and bridges were all passable,” he pointed out.
In Oras town, Eastern Samar, all the reported damages were minor. There were some flooding in low-lying areas and no electricity. However, public facilities and buildings are in good condition, both public roads and bridges passable, Catapang disclosed.
In Gamay town, Northern Samar, damages were reported to be slight with public roads and bridges passable.
In Sulat town, Eastern Samar, overflights reported seeing some nipa huts destroyed along the seashore along with some concrete houses.
“As regards public facilities and buildings and schools, roofings were destroyed. There’s no electricity. There are two bridges that are passable only to light vehicles but they are now being repaired. As to public roads, they are passable,” Catapang said.
In Borongan, Eastern Samar, damages were also reported as minor and limited to coconut crops. Airport facilities are in good condition.
“They can see military vehicles in the area, and public roads and bridges are all passable,” the AFP chief said.