REMEMBERING TYPHOON ‘PEPENG’: Flood victims now own their houses

October 30, 2016 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment


By Yolanda Sotelo
ROSALES  – One day in October 2009, while the people were busy with their daily grind– planting and harvesting in the agricultural lands and selling and buying in the business areas, typhoon Pepeng unleashed its fury, dumping unprecedented amount of water in northern Luzon.
The heavy downpour filled the San Roque Dam very quickly, until it reached 186.25 meter above sea level (the maximum critical level is 180 masl). At 12:03 am of  October 7, 2009, the dam operators started opening the gates.
Torrential rain continued. At 3 am of October 9, 2009, when the dam’s elevation was at 289.05 at 3:00 am, all six  gates at 27 meters  of the dam were opened, spilling our 5,072 cubic masl  of water.
“The water came suddenly,” Leny Flores, a resident of Carmen West which was heavily inundated, recalled, still shuddering at the thought of the large amount of water filling up the yard, then the ground floor of her three-storey house.
As water rushed, so did her neighbors who lived in shanties near the dike of the Agno River into which the dam water was dumped, to the Flores’ house.
“Around 30 families came, occupying the second and third floors. It was so cramped that the adults had to sleep seated, giving more space to the children,” she said.
It was good that Flores and her husband, former barangay chair Andres, stacked three sacks of rice and boxes of canned goods and noodles, as it had been raining for weeks and she prepared for the worst. The stock, meant for her own family, got decimated almost immediately.
One of those who sought refuge at the Flores residence is the family of Mercedita Torres. The family lived in a shanty at the dike of the Agno River, which was threatened by rushing large volume of water.
“We run to the Flores house, where we stayed until the water subsided,” she said.
Torres, like most residents who lost their houses, stayed in the Tent City for a year.
“Living in a tent was difficult as it was hot especially at noontime. It was not conducive for children, many of whom got sick,” she said.
But relief goods abound after the calamity and agencies, both local and international, brought the goods to the Tent City in barangay San Pedro.
Agencies were quick to provide shelter assistance. More than  100 families were transferred to the “transitional housing project” established by the local government unit and the Red Cross in barangay Balincanaway  in June 2010, eight months after the flood.  
The houses which cost from P60,000 to P70,000 each, were designed to withstand typhoons with strength of 120 kilometer per hour.The Red Cross provided the materials and the beneficiaries, their labor.
The LGU purchased the lot for P2 million using municipal funds and donations (P700,000) received from private persons and entities after the calamity. The LGU was also in charge of site development including the provision of power and water system.
The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) on the other hand, provided construction materials like galvanized iron sheets for roofing, coco lumber posts and beams, and sawali (woven bamboo slats) for walls.
The  PNRC acquired the services of a team of six workers that include three carpenters, to supervise the construction. The team members were given daily allowances.
The beneficiaries contributed labor for the construction of the 4 x 5-meter core houses (excluding the comfort room) on a 50-meter lot.
 The Department of Social Welfare and Development also established core housing units for 240 flood victim families in barangay Palakipak.
Each lot measures 60 meters while the core house measures 20 meters, excluding the toilet. Construction of 135 core houses is in full blast and is expected to be completed by the end of September 2010.               
The core houses are environment friendly, structurally strong shelter units that can withstand approximately 180-220 kph wind velocity, earthquake up to intensity 4 of the Ritcher scale, and other similar hazards. The DSWD uses locally purchased construction materials to revitalize local economy.
DSWD officials said the core houses have “hip roofs”  with 2×4 inch thick wood trusses,  2×3 cross braces, 2×4 rafters and 2×2 purlins. The houses’ walls are concrete and the roofs are galvanized iron.
The core house model won the United Nations Habitat Award in 1990 and was adopted in Bani town which was hit by typhoon Emong (international codename Chan- hom) in May 2008 with its killer 185 kilometer per hour winds.
At present, the DSWD and the local government have established 600 core housing units, while 60 are under construction. Not all of them are victims of typhoon Pepeng, but of typhoons that hit the area in the succeeding years.
Seven years after the “Big Flood,” residents of Rosales still can’t forget the day Rosales “failed to bloom.”
But they have something to be thankful for – houses that they can call their own.

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Entry filed under: News.

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