MANILA – Thousands of people in the Philippines remained in emergency shelters in the wake of devastating Christmas flooding, as the death toll climbed to 51 with 19 missing, authorities said Monday.
Images showed residents in southern Misamis Occidental province sweeping away thick mud from the floors of their homes. In the seaside village of Cabol-anonan, coconut trees were uprooted and huts made of light material were nearly flattened.
The Northern Mindanao region bore the brunt of the disaster, reporting 25 deaths, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Most of the deaths were from drowning and landslides, and among the missing were fishermen whose boats capsized.
Floods have subsided in most parts, but more than 8,600 people were still in shelters.
Over 4,500 houses were damaged by the floods, along with roads and bridges, and some areas still struggle with disrupted power and water supply, the disaster management agency said.
Ivy Amor Amparo, a hospital worker from Ginoog city in Misamis Oriental province, said that the seaside home of her parents and siblings was damaged by big waves and uprooted trees. Rescuers ferried the mother of two and her relatives in a truck to a nearby shelter, where they spent the Christmas weekend.
She said her father bought materials using the 5,000 pesos ($90) cash aid from the local government to build a temporary shelter for the household, whose seven members are now miserably cramped in the small living room of the damaged house.
“Their things are still with the neighbor and some in our house," Amparo told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "When they need to take a bath at the community water pump, they have to get their clothes from the neighbor’s house.”
Officials said the government sent food and other essentials, deployed heavy equipment for clearing operations, and provided iron sheets and shelter repair kits. Teams from the capital Manila were sent to assist communities with limited clean water in setting up water filtration systems.
At least 22 cities and municipalities have declared a state of calamity. The move will allow the release of emergency funds and hasten rehabilitation efforts.
A shear line — the point where warm and cold air meet — triggered heavy rains in parts of the country last week, causing the floods, the state weather bureau said.