Storm ‘Cosme’ Devastates La Union

Typhoon Cosme hit the southern towns of La Union on the night of May 17, causing millions of damage in agricultural production, fisheries, infrastructure and leaving seven persons dead and five injured.

Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 16, May 25-31, 2008

Typhoon Cosme hit the southern towns of La Union on the night of May 17, causing millions of damage in agricultural production, fisheries, infrastructure and leaving seven persons dead and five injured.

Worst hit were the municipalities of Rosario, Sto. Tomas, Agoo, Aringay, Caba, Tubao and parts of Bauang and Naguillan. A total of 97 barangays (villages) and 7,147 families were affected. Some 695 houses were totally damaged while 5,407 partially damaged mostly along the coast.

Governor Manuel Ortega declared on May 22 a state of calamity in the province after the provincial board passed a resolution to that effect. Mayors of the affected towns, however, had declared it earlier in their respective towns after assessing the huge damage and calamity suffered by their townsfolk.

The Governor promised to provide financial assistance to the people and allocate the calamity fund for agricultural and infrastructure damages.

Casualties from Rosario were Domingo Ubungen, 66; Juanito Iserio, 68; Leopoldo Labasan, 37; and Maximilliano Sibayan, 58. Peito Estacio, 72 from Sto. Tomas; Rolando Alambra of Agoo; and Warlito Abat, 16, from San Juan, after declared missing for days.

The damage caused by typhoon Cosme amounted to P40 million ($920,810.31 at the May 23 exchange rate of $1:P43.44) in agricultural losses, according to Avelino Lamboy, provincial agriculturist. With 15 motorized banca (boat) and one commercial fishing vessel, and hundreds of fishponds destroyed and bangus (milkfish) killed, an estimated total of P22 million ($506,445.67) were reported damaged. Rice and corn losses amounted to P5 million ($115,101.30).

Some 5,000 fruit-bearing trees, mostly bananas and mangoes, which were either completely damaged or had little chance of recovery were estimated to be worth more than P8 million ($184,162.06).

National roads like Jose Aspiras Highway, from Agoo to Baguio City through Marcos Highway, MacArthur Highway in Rosario and the National Highway particularly Caba towards Rosario became impassable night of May 17 because of fallen trees and debris.

PNP Provincial Director Noli G. Talino instructed and provided assistance through their municipal police stations in the clearing operations with the Provincial Engineering Office.

An estimated total cost of damage for infrastructure affecting the national and many provincial roads is P9.9 million ($227,900.55).

Tubao’s old market and the second floor of the municipal hall, which houses the Office of the Mayor, were destroyed by the winds and rains of Cosme. Mayor Dante Rivera, refused to disclose the information on the damages in his town. Tubao is one of the worst affected in terms of agriculture and infrastructure.

An elementary school in Brgy. Udjao in Rosario town was totally damaged.

Many electric posts have been destroyed. As of this writing, electricity still has to be restored in less than half of barangays of the towns affected.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC)-La Union Chapter, Provincial Social Welfare Office, Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and members of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council are presently rendering relief operations.

Meanwhile, in an ocular inspection last May 20 in Brgy. Ubagan, in the coastal town Sto. Tomas which was hardest hit by Cosme, a total of 318 families were found to have been affected by the storm. All the houses built with light materials were totally damaged. People are still waiting and pleading for relief and assistance from the Municipal Mayor. Residents say they have not been visited yet by Mayor Severino Carbonell

Earlier that day, an unidentified body of a man in his 40s was found at the coastal waters of Ubagan. The body was believed to be from Pangasinan, where several individuals are reportedly still missing since May 17.

Tropical Storm Cosme had strength of 135 kph and also affected Pangasinan, Zambales and Benguet provinces. Northern Dispatch / (

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