By Juan Escandor Jr.
NAGA CITY---At the height of continuous rains brought about by Typhoon Maring, 22 bus passengers and a mayor in Camarines Sur were rescued from floodwaters on Tuesday in Quezon province, according to an official of Camarines Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).
Lucena Bermeo, chief of Camarines Sur PDRRMO, said they were alerted at about 4:00 a.m. Tuesday through text message from a passenger of a DLTB bus that they were stalled by flood in Barangay Ilaya in the town of Pitogo, Quezon province.
Bermeo said with landslide and floods in the route that passes the coastal areas of Quezon province, the DLTB bus detoured to the alternate road at the Bondoc Peninsula where the flood was also intense.
She said the floodwaters almost submerged the bus and the passengers took to the roof of the bus for safety before the rescuers reached them.
Bermeo said they started coordinating with the Quezon PDRRMO but it took several hours before the responders reached the distraught passengers because of wrong information about the location.
She said it was already 11:00 a.m. when the responders rescued the passengers and brought to safety.
Bermeo said that in the same location Calabanga Mayor Eduardo Severo was also stranded because of the floodwaters.
She said Severo who was aboard a Fortuner was helped by certain Angelo Agra of Barangay Ilaya when his vehicle was trapped by the floodwaters.
On the other side of the route going to and from Manila, all vehicles going south were stranded in Calauag, Quezon due to a landslide in Barangay Binutas.
Fr. Eric Bobis, a passenger of a bus going to Naga City, told the Bicol Mail the vehicles were stopped on its tracks when landslide obstructed the road going south.
Bobis said they waited for more than seven hours until the road was cleared of the mud from the mountains.
He said he was told that the landslide happened because somebody felled down mahogany and mango trees earlier on the upper portion of the area where the landslide occurred.
Bobis said the road became passable at almost 12:00 noon Tuesday.
Leanne Zuniga Montemayor, an event organizer and freelance marketing manager in Naga City, woke up her friends at 4:00 Tuesday when her daughter’s friend from the Ateneo de Naga texted her about their DLTB bus submerging into floodwaters in Bgy. Pitogo and there was none to help them.
Leanne said they had contacted the rescue team from MDRRC in Gumaca about the incident. They came an hour later but without a banca or boat to save them from the flooded bus which by this time they had climbed up the bus’ roof.
Leanne in meantime called her friends in the local radio stations such as Station Manager Al Ubana, Joe Osabal, Grace Inocentes, and Ed Ventura, among others, to assist her in calling for help from all those concerned.
Before 11:00 of that same day, all the passengers and the driver were brought to safety.
Here’s Leanne’s last text message while relating to her Facebook friends the events that were taking place in that flooded site in Quezon that day: “Salamat din lalo na kay Honeeleanne Borromeo [Leanne’s daughter]hindi ako nagkamali na paaralin kita ng nursing....ikaw ang unang nakakontak sa Gumaca at Atimonan Rescue Team by using the google to know their contact numbers; called them and gave all the information na nangyayari (in return ang fone ko naging means para tumawag sa rescue team for inquiries of the status ng mga pasahero)....while your mom [Leanne] was busy posting in social media to disseminate the incident para maipaabot sa gabos na friends ko sa FB sakaling may maitulong sila. Hindi rin nasayang ang pagpalaki ko sainyo and trained you na sa pagdating sa paghingi ng tulong at nangangailangan ng ating serbisyo nandyan tayo without question, hesitation and reservation, come hell or high water. With additional report by Joe Perez.