GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 June) — A still unidentified man was killed while 18 families were forced to evacuate late Sunday afternoon due to another flashflood in a major river here.
Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr., City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) head, said Monday huge volumes of floodwaters swelled from the critical Silway River following hours of heavy rains on Sunday afternoon, ravaging portions of Purok Matinabangon in Barangay Labangal.
He said the floods washed away several houses and destroyed portions of the approach and the slope protection or foundation of the Fil-Japan or Lower Silway Bridge, prompting City Mayor Ronnel Rivera to order its temporary closure to motorists at around 5 p.m. Sunday.
At the height of the floods, Dacera said local residents found a man, who was believed to have drowned, floating on the river.
He said the victim, who has remained unidentified, was brought to a local hospital but was declared by doctors as dead upon arrival.
The official said they also implemented the preemptive evacuation of residents of Purok Matinabangon who were situated near the banks of Silway River due to the rising floodwaters.
“These were the same families who had also evacuated because of a previous flashflood,” he said, referring to the floods on Wednesday last week that displaced a dozen families.
He said some of the evacuees are currently taking temporarily shelter at the Barangay Labangal gymnasium while others stayed with their relatives.
Citing their initial assessment, Dacera said the flashflood along Silway River was triggered by hours of heavy rains in the city and the upland portions of nearby South Cotabato province.
He said the sandbags protecting the riverbanks and a temporary dike that formed with the rechanneling at the upper portion of the river suffered breaches, making the waters “bounce” from a concrete dike and stream towards Purok Matinabangon.
Dacera said the floodwaters eventually swept the riverside community and caused scouring at a portion of the approach of the Lower Silway Bridge.
“The mayor immediately ordered the closure of the bridge to motorists to prevent more damage to it and for safety reasons as well,” he said.
He clarified that the bridge structure is stable but the damaged approach, which vibrates every time a vehicle passes, could suffer further stress and possibly collapse in the process.
Owing to this, he said the mayor ordered an immediately assessment of the bridge by experts from the City Engineer’s Office and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
He said they expect to come up with a decision before the end of the day regarding the bridge’s status, especially if the closure will continue or if it will be reopened to the public.
Silway River, which flows to Sarangani Bay, is the main outlet of several river-tributaries from the upland areas in nearby South Cotabato province.
Hundreds of families that were situated in communities near the river were forced to evacuate several times in the last three years due to the swelling of the river’s waters.
Several portions of the dike along the Silway River had suffered breaches and eventually collapsed following heavy rains in the area. (MindaNews)