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Friday, October 9, 2009

News: Destruction everywhere in Botolan

Destruction everywhere in Botolan
By Robert Gonzaga (source)

BOTOLAN, Zambales – After the howling of winds stopped and heavy rains that triggered massive floods here became a drizzle, residents are struggling to regain a sense of normalcy amid the devastation that has swept the town.

In the coastal village of Bangan, a community facing the South China Sea, Conrado Durong, 64, said Typhoon “Pepeng” left an unexpected and unwelcome trace of its passing before it raced toward extreme Northern Luzon.

“Our problem here is not just the flooding, but also the waves coming from the sea. We have to watch out for them every time there is a storm, like this last one,” he said.

Durong said the waves rose to almost as high as some of the coconut trees and crashed into houses along the coast, decimating a section of the village populated by fishermen and their families.

Bigger waves
No one, however, was hurt. Residents did not consider it out of the ordinary because most of them had gone through similar experiences, although Durong said his fellow villagers ran to the town plaza in panic as the waves grew bigger and bigger this time.

“Where the water is now, there were houses before. Each storm that comes here takes away a little of our village. This time, the sea took a lot. My house did not get hit because it was farther away from the shore. But they should build a seawall here just to be safe,” he said.

Mayor Rogelio Yap said the waves might have risen due to high tide and this is the typhoon’s exit path.

“Also, since the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo [in 1991], the shoreline in that area has come closer to the houses there,” he said.

Of eight coastal villages in Botolan, only Bangan was hit hard by crashing waves.

Rice farms gone
A cluster of rice fields which leads to Capayawan, another village of Botolan hit hard by the flooding, is now gone. A wide expanse of agricultural land in Capayawan is now navigable only by boat.

“There used to be farms here. Now there is a new river that leads to the South China Sea. We lost our livelihood. A relative living nearby lost her house. We have to place sandbags in front of our houses to prevent the floodwater from reaching us,” said farmer Manolo Dagsaan, 47, a resident of Capayawan.

He said those who owned boats have been offering rides.

Many residents now fear that a significant area of Botolan would be wiped out by the widespread flooding.

Julius Dimayuga, 37, whose family has lived for a long time in Barangay San Juan near the Bucao Dike, said the dike breached because “it was made of cheap materials.”

Under water
“Now, almost a third of San Juan is under water. A lot of houses there are abandoned. I have taken my family to an evacuation center. It seems like all their focus is on that bridge in Carael but not yet on other parts of Botolan,” he said.

Let's pray for our kababayans in Botolan and other affected areas in Zambales and other provinces.