Over 10,000 homes damaged by Typhoon Rolly in Catanduanes

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A building suffers damage following the wrath of super typhoon Rolly

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 2) — More than 10,000 homes were damaged as Typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni), spawning storm surges, hit Catanduanes over the weekend, Governor Joseph Cua said on Monday.

Malacañang was able to establish a communication line to the typhoon-ravaged province on Monday afternoon, after a day without contact at the height of heavy rains and strong winds. The link was facilitated through a small satellite called VSAT.

"Base sa aerial survey ng OCD...estimated na damage ay 65% ng mga light materials ang sira at about 20% ng mga malalaking bahay ang may damage," the governor said in a livestreamed briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

[Translation: Based on the aerial survey of the Office of Civil Defense...the estimated damage is 65% among houses made of light materials and 20% of larger homes were destroyed.]

The numbers translate to over 10,000 small homes with those along coastlines "totally washed out," Catanduanes Rep. Hector Sanchez said. Another 3,000 homes made of more durable materials were estimated to have been damaged.

In total, about 15,000 families were displaced by the super typhoon. Cua said the number could grow, as communication lines are still down and roads in all 11 towns are still not passable due to fallen debris.

In an interview with CNN Philippines later in the day, Cua reported that four residents drowned in floodwaters or while crossing rivers. He said three of the victims were from the town of San Miguel while the other was from Virac.

The governor said five others were injured at the height of the typhoon while one resident remains missing. He clarified that the figures were only based on initial reports from three out of 11 towns.

In a separate briefing, the Philippine National Police deputy chief for operations ​PGen. Cesar Binag reported that there were 10 people who died in Catanduanes due to the super typhoon, while 90% of infrastructure has been damaged based on their assessments.

Strong winds and torrential rains toppled cell towers after Rolly made landfall in Bato, Catanduanes early Sunday morning. "Grabe po ang damage doon [There was substantial damage there]," Cua said, also citing the devastation in the towns of Gigmoto, Baras, Virac, and San Andres.

Rolly battered the island province with maximum sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 280 kph. Storm Signal No. 5 was also raised in the area on Sunday.

The super typhoon also caused storm surges, which the governor said rose as high as 5 meters. Storm surges occur when ocean levels rise and reach land like a huge wave, pushed by the wind and submerging communities.

RELATED: Storm signals lifted as Rolly, Siony maintain strength at sea

The Office of Civil Defense has reported 16 deaths in the Bicol region due to the super typhoon, which is among the strongest cyclones to hit the Philippines and the biggest storm globally in 2020.

Cua said Rolly was even stronger than Super Typhoon Rosing back in 1995 and Typhoon Nina from four years ago.

Damage to property

The super typhoon also ruined anywhere between ₱700 million to ₱1 billion worth of roads, bridges and school buildings, as well as about ₱600 million in agricultural products.

The biggest damage was felt among planters of abaca, the province's main product, at ₱400 million.

“Nagbibigay sa amin ‘to ng ₱150 million kada buwan at tumutulong sa lahat ng farmers ng abaca sa Catanduanes,” Cua said.

[Translation: This product generates ₱150 million every month and helps all abaca farmers in Catanduanes.]

Catanduanes also lost an estimated ₱200 million worth of other crops.

Apart from barangay facilities, public schools and even private homes are being used as evacuation centers.

Telecommunications and power lines are also down, with the governor appealing for immediate response from telco companies and the Department of Energy.

Homes and commercial establishments were disconnected from the local grid on Saturday as a precautionary measure, but the typhoon would later topple 90% of electricity posts and power transformers.

Some areas were still reeling from the brunt of Typhoon Quinta when the stronger Rolly hit.

Local military camps were not spared from damage, with OCD regional director Claudio Yucot reporting that soldiers had to take shelter at the Virac Airport. The local gateway has been cleared and is ready to operate.

Food, water needed

Catanduanes has only about 2,000 family food packs on standby in the province and thousands more will be needed as the degree of devastation begins to emerge.

"Talagang kailangan na kailangan namin ang tulong ng national agencies dahil 'yung aming pondo for disasters, nauna nang naubos ng COVID-19 [We really need the help of national agencies because our funds for disasters were depleted due to COVID-19]," the governor said, adding that ferry boats which used to bring supplies to the province have also been cut off since Typhoon Quinta last week.

Local OCD officials appealed for drinking water. Running water has also been cut off, with locals counting on deep wells for supply. They are also asking for GI sheets and tarpaulin materials to help restore damaged homes.

NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad said a C130 plane will be sent to Catanduanes to deliver urgent supplies and conduct an impact assessment.

Jalad said the Department of Social Welfare and Development is sending more food packs to the mainland part of Bicol and a separate batch for Catanduanes on Tuesday. The agency is also in contact with Smart and Globe for the restoration of mobile network services.

READ: Aerial check: Duterte to scan areas hit by Super Typhoon Rolly

Northern Samar Governor Edwin Ongchuan announced separately that their province will be extending aid to Catanduanes and Albay, the provinces hardest hit by the calamity. He pledged to send food, water, clothes, and other essentials to the damaged communities.

Tacloban City-based journalist Wil Mark Amazona contributed to this report.