Thunderstorm hits Surigao City, uproots landmark tree

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/03 Nov) – A huge rubber tree that has served as a landmark in the downtown area since for some 25 years now, was uprooted and some motorized bancas nearly capsized when an “unos” (thunderstorm) struck the city at around 10:30 a.m.  Saturday

Engr. Constancio C. Arpon,  head of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) here said the nearly hour-long rain and “unos”  was a localized thunderstorm that may have been accompanied by a localized tornado.

UPROOTED. A huge rubber tree that has become one of Surigao City’s landmarks is uprooted when a thunderstorm struck Surigao City Satureday morning. MindaNews photo by Vanessa L. Almeda

PO1 Eric Gumpal, Deputy Station Commander of the Philippine Coast Guard, said motorized bancas GraceMarc3 and Marebeth, M/V Maria Lolita (a roll-on roll off or RORO) of Montenegro Shipping Lines, an unnamed banca and an abandoned private banca that docked at the local pier suffered minimal damages, including a broken outrigger.

GraceMarc3, however, nearly sank when it hit a post below the seawall at the Boulevard causing a hole in the front of its hull, its captain Celso Lumizao told MindaNews.

ALMOST. Gracemark 3 docked at Pantalan II, Boulevard in Surigao City nearly sank when a thunderstorm struck the city at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday. MindaNews photo by Vanessa L. Almeda

M/V Maria Lolita meanwhile was “sideswiped” by another passenger boat, M/V Pilipinas Dapitan of Cokaliong Lines, when the waves and the sudden strong winds caused the ships to sway and probably collide, Gumpal said.

Lumizao on one hand said he could not pull the boat out from its moor as boats beside it also failed to immediately leave the bay, the sudden huge waves moving them sideways.

“I had to immediately evacuate the passengers,” he said, adding they were “almost flying”  flying while crossing the gangplank.

At the city proper, a huge rubber tree was uprooted along Magallanes and Rizal streets fronting the city’s fruit stand Luneta,  hitting a parked jeep owned by Banco De Oro security guard Eleazar G. Celeste, who, incidentally, planted the tree.

I PLANTED THIS TREE. Bank security guard Eleazar Celeste can’t believe his parked jeep is under a felled tree. Celeste planted the rubber tree some 25 years ago. MindaNews photo by Vanessa L. Almeda

“It was still placed in a flower pot when I planted it there,” said the guard who has served the bank in the last 30 years.

“Now it’s the one that destroyed my jeep,” he said, shaking his head.

BDO branch manager Ernesto Juan Mendoza Jr. said bank personnel who were on duty today heard coconuts falling on the roof but were surprised upon learning that the tree was uprooted.

“The tree served as one of the city’s landmarks where everybody who wants to sit and rest can freely do so,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza noted there may have been more damages had it not been for that tree.

A member of the Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Surneco) told residents and fruit vendors that electricity was temporarily cut off within the vicinity.

Power went off for about 30 minutes in the city proper.

PENSIVE. A fruit vendor stands near the felled tree that has blocked the entrance to the fruit mart. MindaNews photo by Vanessa L. Almeda

Mango vendor Tita Fajardo, 60, was still shaking when she told MindaNews that the umbrella of her trisikad-fruit stand was broken when the strong wind hit.

“Naa man to ipo-ipo gajud,”
(There was really a whirlwind), said Fajardo, who also has a fruit stand where the huge rubber tree fell.  She added her body was still aching after holding on to the umbrella to protect her from being carried away.

Along the highway,  a temporary fence set up by an ongoing building construction collapsed, damaging a parked car.

“It’s the first time that this happened,” Mendoza said.

Arpon, in a separate interview confirmed that the “intensity of the wind and rain is not like before” and as such is considered part of climate change “but this is nothing unusual since this period is the rainy season.”  (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)