Big waves hit Davao City barangays; 1,440 displaced

Among the affected barangays were in Agdao district, Lapu-lapu, Duterte, Bunawan, Brgy. 23, Brgy. 21, Brgy. 76, Matina Aplaya, Dumoy, Bago Aplaya, Lizada, Daliao, and Sirawan.   

Pura Villiones, coordinator of the Emergency Response of the City Social Services and Development Office, said the number of people affected was increasing by the hour as she described it as a natural phenomenon "progressing" and was expected to be occurring up to next month.  

Villiones said some 250 affected residents in Bago Aplaya described the waves as the worst to hit them in several years.

Initial relief goods had been sent, she said.

She said the affected individuals came from 360 families in coastline barangays who were surprised by strong winds and big waves when the weather forecast of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) was only "moderate to strong" winds and coastal waters to be "moderate to rough.”

The displaced victims have since been temporarily evacuated to barangay halls, schools and relatives' houses, Villiones told MindaNews Friday. She said they have provided initial food assistance to the victims and are awaiting release of  more financial support from the city government.  

The Davao City Disaster Coordinating Council (DCDCC) office said no deaths or injuries were reported as of 7 p.m. Friday.  

Friday’s waves hit Bago Aplaya in Talomo district the worst, said Barangay Chair Danilo P. Andoy. Fifty six houses were destroyed, displacing at least 220 people in Purok Seaside alone.

Majority of the houses in Purok Seaside, made of light materials, were totally destroyed, Andoy told MindaNews Friday morning. Residents actually started vacating their houses on Thursday yet, as big waves already began hitting them hard. More huge waves struck them early Friday morning, he said.

In Bago Aplaya, some residents used a community cooperative's multi-purpose hall, a barangay office, and an elementary school gym as temporary shelter while others stayed in relatives' houses.

The disaster became an opportunity, however, for residents to help each other, Andoy said, as the barangay council relied heavily on them to address evacuation, food preparation, health and security problems.

Florentina Campos, 66, helped move wood planks from the damaged house of her daughter to a safer ground. She said she was not feeling well but she had to help save her family's property before the waves strike again the following day.

The barangay disaster coordinating council estimated a total of P1.3 million property damaged.

Isaias Jandug, 67, a barangay councilor, said barangay officials have asked some residents to act as guards in the foot bridge connecting the safe portion of the community and the damaged part. "This is to help house owners protect their property from thieves, who took advantage of the incident.

Rosalia Recorba, 52, who lived in the area for 25 years, said Friday’s waves were the strongest. "Every year, the strong waves take a t least a house, now it has taken more than 50," she said.

"Now I have changed by mind, I would like to live in a safer place, away from the sea. It is horrible here," she said.

Andoy said they had offered the residents of Purok Seaside to move to a temporary relocation site at the proposed barangay road even before the season of monsoon winds.   

But relocating residents would be a problem for coastal communities, Andoy said, saying that most residents prefer to stay there than pay the rent in relocation area. A permanent relocation site would be another problem, he said.

Asuncion Infiesto, principal of the neighboring Generoso Elementary School, said they asked the parents to send their children to school despite the bad weather because “at least, the classrooms are safer.”

Classes were not suspended in the area, she said, but many pupils were absent because of trauma.

Also, "many of them do not have dry clothes to put on," she said.

But the day care center did not hold classes as the classroom was used by some evacuees and volunteers as coordination station.

Many residents did not report to work, mostly in factory workers surrounding the barangay. "They helped tear down houses to keep the materials for reconstruction. Some of them helped cook food for the volunteers and the affected residents, while some of them served as property caretakers of their friends,” Andoy said.

PAGASA estimated the big waves, called southwest monsoon, to calm down in a week as a low pressure area has approached from east of the country.   (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)