R-12 disaster management officials monitoring possible landslides, floods

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 February) — Disaster management personnel in Region 12 are closely watching portions of this city and in 11 other localities in the region due to the possible occurrence of flashfloods and landslides in the wake of the continuing heavy rains spawned by tropical depression “Crising.”

Jerome Barranco, Office of Civil Defense-Region 12 assistant regional director, said Tuesday they have raised the flashflood and landslide alert in the entire region as a result of the almost nonstop rains since late Monday afternoon.

Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Citing a flood and landslide vulnerability map issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Barranco said portions of the cities of General Santos, Cotabato, Koronadal and Kidapawan were considered critical to heavy flooding due to the continuing rains.

He said the other vulnerable areas were Isulan, Lutayan and Lambayong towns in Sultan Kudarat; Norala, Tantangan, Tupi and Sto. Nino towns in South Cotabato; and, Alabel in Sarangani.

“We’re presently monitoring the water levels of the river systems in these areas as a precaution against the possible occurrence of flashfloods,” the official said.

Based on an advisory issued the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the continuing rains were caused by the entry of a Low Pressure Area (LPA) that developed into a tropical depression on Monday.

As of 4 a.m. Tuesday, the weather agency’s bulletin number three said the center of tropical depression “Crising” was estimated at 310 kilometers east of this city with maximum sustained winds of 45 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and was seen to move towards the west northwest direction at 22 kph.

On Monday night, PAGASA placed Region 12’s four provinces under public storm warning Signal Number 1 along with 10 other provinces in Mindanao.

But as of 5 a.m. Tuesday eighteen of Mindanao’s 26 provinces have been placed under Public Storm Warning Signal 1 as ‘Crising’ continues to move closer to Mindanao. (See separate story)

Lawyer Hilario de Pedro III, South Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief, said classes in the pre-school and kindergarten levels in the area have been suspended due to the storm warning.

The city government issued an advisory via its website on Tuesday morning on the suspension of classes.

In Sarangani Province, the PDRRMO said Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez declared the suspension of classes in all levels as a precaution against the impact of the weather disturbance.

Based on Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 43, classes in public and private pre-school and kindergarten are automatically cancelled or suspended in the areas placed under storm signal 1.

DepEd Order No. 43 provided for the guidelines for implementing Executive Order No. 66 on the cancellation or suspension of classes and offices during typhoons, floods, weather disturbances and calamities.

Meantime, as of Tuesday morning, Barranco said they have not received any report on the occurrence of weather-related untoward incidents in any part of the region.

But he warned residents, especially those situated in mountainous and low-lying areas, to be cautious and continually monitor the government’s weather advisories.

He said residents in high-risk areas should also coordinate with their barangay disaster risk reduction and management committees and action teams for advisories on possible severe weather-related occurrences. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)

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