CAGAYAN, Philippines – Communication lines in Batanes province were cut off after being directly hit by Typhoon Ferdie (international codename Meranti) early Wednesday, September 14.
Norma Talosig, chief of the Office of the Civil Defense-Cagayan Valley region, said they could not contact the towns of Itbayat and Basco.
Typhoon Ferdie made landfall over Itbayat island around 12:15 am Wednesday, according to the PAGASA Doppler radar in Aparri town in this province.
Talosig said the lack of communication to the directly affected areas is paralyzing their disaster response planning.
"So far, wala pa kaming natatanggap na report on damage. Ang pinaka-problema pa ay on how we could reach them kasi putol ang linya ng communications and ang means of communication lang natin ay through cell phone," Talosig told Rappler in a phone interview.
(We have not yet received reports on typhoon damage. The main problem now is how we could reach them, because all communications lines were cut off and the only means of communication we have to them is through cell phone.)
He added that the local disaster team in Batanes does not have a satellite phone to communicate emergency situations. (READ: What if communication lines break down during disasters?)
Talosig said they were able to contact other Batanes towns hours after Ferdie hit the islands, but communications were also cut off later.
She said that they will convene Wednesday on how to reach Batanes and to organize teams who will go there.
"Nagplaplano na kami ng maaaring action para maresolba itong problema on communications with Batanes para malaman namin kung ano na ang nangyari doon (We are already planning possible actions to resolve the communications issue with Batanes so we could get an idea of what happened there)," Talosig said.
Meanwhile, Calayan town mayor Al Llopis told Rappler that Ferdie has not caused significant damage in the town.
Calayan's Babuyan Group of Islands had been placed under signal number 3 when the eye of the typhoon hit neighboring Batanes.
Llopis said Ferdie brought "heavy rain and moderate winds." – Rappler.com