Flood hits SouthCot town

Sto. Nino Mayor Antonio Damandaman said a significant portion of the town proper's Zone 1 area is still submerged in floodwaters on Monday after continuous heavy rains since last week triggered the swelling of the nearby Allah River last Saturday.

He said the river's water level rose and changed its course reportedly due to the huge volume of water dislodged by the critical Lake Holon (formerly Maughan) in T'boli town.

Damandaman said the problem started when the Allah River's waters settled in at the approach of a bridge in Purok Sta. Cecilia that served as a dike and eventually swelled to the nearby palay farmlands and communities.

He said the heavy flooding eventually caused the riverbanks in the area to cave in and destroyed portions of the road leading to the bridge.

The mayor said several houses near the river banks and a sizable area of palay farmlands were destroyed by the floods.

"We are still evaluating the affected areas but based on what I initially saw yesterday (Sunday), the extent was very significant," Damandaman said.

The mayor said he ordered the immediate evacuation of at least 27 families situated near the river banks and areas near the river that are considered in danger due to the rising floodwaters.

He said the evacuees have taken temporary shelter since Sunday at the Sto. Nino municipal hall.

"We're not taking any chances because the situation is still critical there. If the rains will not stop, more areas will certainly be affected," Damandaman said in a radio interview this morning.

The mayor said he has already reported the problem to the Office of Civil Defense and the Department of Public Works and Highways and officials of both agencies promised to immediately address them.

He also requested assistance from the office of South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr. and the provincial government of South Cotabato.

He said Pingoy dispatched heavy equipment to the area but they have yet to utilize them because the water level in the flooded area is still high.

Two weeks ago, the provincial government of South Cotabato alerted residents situated near the Allah River due to the reported rising of the crater-lake Holon's waters spawned by landslides on its walls.

The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council reported that several portions of the lake's walls reportedly loosened up and caved into the lake due to the continuous heavy rains in the area.

In the 1995 disaster, a landslide in one of the lake's walls caused its water level to rise and eventually dumped 30 million cubic meters to its river-tributaries. It was the worst disaster to hit South Cotabato in decades, leaving 53 people dead, the bodies of14 of whom were not recovered. Damage to property and infrastructure was pegged at P212 million. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)