Monday, 28 September 2009 05:21
Lt. General Oscar H Rabena, PAF commanding general, said that their men began farming out to various points in the city as early as 1:30 PM Saturday when Ondoy was lashing through Metro Manila and nearby areas, adding that the rescuers initially combed Pasay, Makati and Paranaque where the M-35 military trucks transported residents trapped by the sudden rise in floodwaters as well as stranded commuters.
The rescuers could have done more if not for the traffic standstill that likewise trapped the military trucks, he added.
The PAF, however, fielded more vehicles, Rabena said, adding that they were left with no options but to do it, otherwise “we will effectively limit our service to the needy public, he added.” Two wrecker trucks and the smaller 1.25-tonner military trucks were likewise fielded to assist in clearing the road of stalled vehicles and to transport additional stranded citizens. On Sunday, the command committed eight helicopters to the efforts of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense to support all search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of the worst typhoon to hit the country in 40 years.
PAF airmen on board the fielded trucks also showed quick decision making by transporting rubber boats and rescuers of other agencies along the way.
A team that was dispatched to help UERM evacuate patients from the flooded hospital encountered heavy floods in the vicinity of San Juan, Metro Manila where stalled vehicles made Aurora Boulevard virtually impassable. It was, however, able to maneuver out of deep waters and instead proceeded to lend support to a rescue effort at Araneta Avenue, one of the worst-hit residential areas in Quezon City.
The PAF rescuers literally soaked themselves in this operation, some reaching back Villamor Air Base at 9:00 AM Sunday, he said, adding that most of them though wet and hungry were in high spirits after rescuing the needy typhoon victims.
Last Sunday’s operation saw PAF rescuers reaching UST in Espana, Provident Village in Marikina and the flooded areas in Pasig.
We have also started sending out our planes to conduct aerial survey of typhoon areas, he said, adding that they may even airlift relief goods to inaccessible areas.
As of press time, the responding airmen are still under the orders of the National Disaster Coordinating Center as to where they will conduct search and rescue operations