CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/17 December) – Tropical storm Sendong raged across Northern Mindanao at 1 a.m. today, sending thousands of residents to their roofs as floodwaters rose rapidly in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
A still undetermined number of persons died in the two cities but Chief Inspector Lemuel Gunda, head of the rescue team of the Cagayan de Oro City police, told MindaNews at least 40 persons have been reported dead.
The number is still expected to rise, he said, as residents of several sitios in riverside barangays are still unaccounted for.
MindaNews saw at least 14 bodies being pulled out by retrieval teams in Barangay Consolacion and Acacia Street in Barangay Carmen.
Situation Report No. 2 of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRM) as of 4:30 a.m. does not yet include a report on the flash floods. The website, however, lists three persons killed due to flash floods in Polanco, Zamboanga del Norte on Thursday, December 15.
Bombo Radyo Philippines quoted NDRRM Executive Director Benito Ramos as saying nine bodies had been recovered in Iligan.
Cong Corrales, MindaNews reporter based in Cagayan de Oro City, said the floodwaters rose rapidly at around 2 a.m. sending him and his family on the roof of their two-storey house in Barangay Consolacion, a riverside barangay.
Corrales said he spent three hours on the roof with his wife and four children. All together, he said, there were nine children and six adults on the roof.
“Paspas kaayo pag-rise kay high tide pud sa bukana ug suba” (The waters rose so fast because it was also high tide),” Corrales said. The waters subsided to waist-level by 5:52 a.m.
The floods tore the wall of one of the rooms and the roof of the kitchen.
“The eave of the roof in front got mangled when a four-door sedan – floating nose down on the street – slammed into it,” he said.
Corrales said 14 bodies had been recovered in their viallage, more than half of them children. The bodies were brought to a chapel.
Bobby Timonera, Iligan City-based MindaNews editor spent the night in Cagayan de Oro fearing trouble along the 88-kilometer stretch to Iligan. He said the route to the airport in Cagayan de Oro City was like an obstacle course as the new bridge was impassable due to flooding on the approach and felled trees and other debris blocked the streets. He said he took the long route and found high-voltage posts toppled down.
Center of the storm
According to the Severe Weather Bulletin 7 issued by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) at 11 p.m. on December 16, Sendong “maintained its strength and is now in the vicinity of Malaybalay, Bukidnon.”
MindaNews’ Malaybalay-based reporter, Walter Balane, reported no flooding in the city.
By 4 a.m., the storm’s center was located at 50 kms west northwest of Malaybalay at maximum winds of 65 kph near the center and gustiness up to 80 kph.
It was forecast to move west at 22 kph and is expected to be 180 kms southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawaan by Saturday evening and 380 kms west southwest of Puerto Princesa City and will be 630 kms west southwest of Puerto Princesa or out of the Philippine area of responsibility by Monday morning.
PAG-ASA’s Severe weather bulletin number eight issued at 5 a.m. said Sendong “has maintained its course as it moves towards Sulu Sea.”
At 4 a.m. the center of Tropical Storm Sendong was estimated “based on satellite
and surface data at 20 km West Northwest of Cagayan de Oro City” with maximum sustained winds of 65 kph near the center and gustiness up to 80 kph, PAG-ASA said.
On December 16, Storm Signal No. 2 (61-100 kph winds) was hoisted over nine Mindanao provinces: Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Camiguin Island, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and the three Zamboanga provinces.
Signal No. 1 (45-60 kph winds) over seven other Mindanao provinces: Surigao Del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, North Cotabato and Maguindanao.
As of 5 a.m., December 17, Signal No. 2 remained hoisted over Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and the three Zamboanga provinces while Signal No. 1 remained over Camiguin Island, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, North Cotabato,and Maguindanao
The NDRRMC reported flash floods in Polanco, Zamboanga del Norte left three persons dead and 20 families or 100 persons evacuated to higher grounds.
The report said Mrs. Damuag (first name not indicated) , 60, of Barangay Labador, died from drowning. Also dead from drowning were Rodrigo Siangco, 30, of Barangay Silawe, and Rogelio Ramirez, 8, of Barangay San Antonio.
The NDRMMC also reported flooding in Barangays Turno and Dicayas, all in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte at around 10 a.m. on December 15.
Six houses and one day care center were “totally destroyed by raging flood water” and about 60 families or 300 persons were evacuated in Turno Elementary School.
Flooding was also reported by the NDRRMC in Ozamiz City’s barangays Catadman, Bacolod, Maningcol, Aguada Annex, Gango and Lam-an and in Barangay Lapasan in Clarin, Misamis Occidental.
The NDRRMC also reported 8,155 passengers stranded in Mindanao and the Visayas, 1,691 of them in Mindanao.
In the Coast Guard Station in Cagayan de Oro, 1,017 passengers; in Surigao, 380; in Butuan, 127; in Dapitan, 132; and in Ozamiz, 35.
In Surigao, three vessels and four motorized bancas were also stranded. In Dapitan, 8 vessels were stranded, the report said. 4. (Froilan Gallardo, Cong Corrales, Bobby Timonera, Carolyn O. Arguillas, Toto Lozano and Walter Balane/MindaNews)