Bulan, Sorsogon, October 3, 2009, PIO-BULAN: Bulanenos heaved a very deep sigh of relief, and offered prayers of thanksgiving to God, after the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council officially declared, in its October 2, 3:00 PM Advisory that the dangers and risks posed by Supertyphoon Pepeng to the town of Bulan is over. The Supertyphoon, packing winds of between 185-230 KPH, is on its way to the northern part of the Philippines on a west-northwest track as forecast by PAG-ASA. The MDCC Action Officer, Luis De Castro, however, appealed to the public to continue praying for other Filipinos who might be affected by the storm and that they too be spared of this calamity.
Supertyphoon Pepeng endangers the Philippines once more a week after Tropical Storm Ondoy, on September 28-29, brought death, devastation and havoc to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in Metro Manila. Hundreds died and many more were missing from the floodwaters as high as ten meters, due to the record high volumes of rain by this malevolent weather. As of this writing, rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts are still on-going in Manila. Not a single family in Bulan is without a relative in Manila.
When news from PAG-ASA and from the Internet about Pepeng was received by the Office of the Municipal Mayor, Mayor Helen De Castro, Chairman of the MDCC, immediately called, on Wednesday, September 30, an emergency meeting of all members of the MDCC and other stakeholders to put into action and implementation the Municipal Disaster Risk-Reduction Plan.
By evening of October 1, Sorsogon Province was placed under Public Storm Signal No.1, and by then, the Bulan MDCC and all the BDCCs were already activated. Other parts of the Bicol Region were ready, and so were all other Philippine regions. Great were the lessons learned from the tragic experience of Storm Ondoy.
In the whole town of Bulan, residents were properly informed, hand-outs on readiness were distributed, operation capabilities checked and re-checked by local authorities. All the four radio stations played very responsible roles in the public information. In flood-prone barangays like Managa-naga, Obrero, San Vicente, barangay officials prepared rafts from recycled ice chests or styrofores. Managa-naga Barangay Chairman said they also prepared a kilometer-long rope for their residents in case flood waters rise.
The spirit of Bayanihan and volunteerism once more came to the fore as several groups and organizations came to help the MDCC in monitoring , in the voluntary and pre-emptive evacuation of citizens in hazard areas, and in the relief operations in evacuation centers.
Groups like USWAG-Bulan, TOFY, Kabalikat-CIVICOM, BANWA, AKRHO, MAGIC 5, BEAT, and the Bulan Rescue Team were all in hand to do varied roles necessary for the safety of the citzenry
During the storm, 14 houses were partially destroyed, 4 totally, by storm surges in Barangay JP Laurel. There were also 211 families or 1007 persons attended to by MSWDO/RHU personnel and by the volunteers. The Bulan Integrated Terminal became a refuge center for 125 stranded passengers bound for Masbate and Ticao Island. Hot meals were given to them while they are staying at the terminal. Sadly, one passenger from Palanas , Masbate died of a heart attack upon arrival at the terminal. He was attended to by the Bulan PNP.
Fortunately, there were no reports of damage to public infrastructure. Farmers were also thankful that there was only minor damage to crops , especially that this is now the palay-harvest season in Bulan. 201 metric tons of rice, valued at P341,700, was damaged.
The MDCC, thru the Municipal Mayor and the Municipal Action Officer, extended thanks to all those who, in one way or another, did their share in making sure that the Bulan community was safe.