4,000 families displaced in S. Kudarat floods, state of calamity declared in Koronadal

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KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/15 Sept) – More than 4,000 families in Sultan Kudarat province have been displaced as flashfloods triggered by intermittent rains swept anew the area during the last three days.

As this developed, the city council of Koronadal City declared on Tuesday the city to be under the state of calamity due to the flashfloods and landslides since Friday that already left five people dead and destroyed more than P20 million worth of agricultural crops and properties.

Bonifacio Selma, disaster operations chief of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 12, said the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) of Sultan Kudarat reported that at least nine villages in Lambayong town and another in Tacurong City were submerged in floodwaters due to the flashfloods in the area.

He said the floods were reportedly triggered by the overflowing of a portion of the Allah River following the heavy rains in the area.

“The PDCC’s assessment in the affected areas is still ongoing but they have not reported any casualties so far,” he said.

Citing the PDCC’s report, Selma said the floods affected Barangays Pinguiaman, Tinumigues, Sigayan, Udtong, Madanding, Kabulakan, Caridad, Seneben and Sadsalan in Lambayong; and Rajah Muda in Tacurong.

He said a total of 4,020 families were directly affected by the floods in Lambayong and 46 in Tacurong City.

Selma said PDCC Sultan Kudarat initially released food supplies and other relief items to the affected residents, especially those who evacuated from the area.

“We’re initially sending food packs for at least 1,000 families but the (DSWD) regional office is preparing for additional assistance to augment the relief operations of the PDCC,” he said in a radio interview.

At the height of the rainy season last year, a series of flashfloods also swept the area, forcing the evacuation of thousands of local residents.

Officials said a portion of the protective dike along the Allah River gave way, causing huge volumes of floodwaters to swell towards the nearby communities.

In the Koronadal floods, Mayor Peter Miguel said the city council members unanimously approved the calamity declaration, which was earlier recommended by the City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC), during a special session Tuesday afternoon.

“This is a much-needed relief after all the unfortunate events these past days. We can now utilize our calamity funds and move on with our relief and rehabilitation works,” he said.

Under the Local Government Code of 1991, a city or municipal government may declare an area under the state of calamity if at least three of its barangays are in a calamity situation.

Such declaration authorizes the concerned local government unit to utilize its calamity funds, which represents 5 percent of its annual budget.

The CDCC sought for the declaration of the entire city under the state of calamity due to the reported devastation caused by the landslides and flashfloods in 14 of the city’s 27 barangays.

A progress report from the CDCC said the calamity has affected Barangays San Isidro, Assumption, Saravia, Carpenter Hill, Sta. Cruz, Namnama, Avancena, Mambucal, Caloocan, San Roque, Concepcion, Sto. Nino and Poblacion’s Zones I and III.

Hardest hit was Sitio Upper Acub in Barangay San Isidro where five people were killed while six others were injured at the height of Friday’s floods and landslides.

The CDCC said some 67 families from the area have so far evacuated and are currently taking temporary shelter at the Bacongco Elementary School.

It said a series of landslides Sunday night destroyed the main provincial road leading towards Barangay Assumption, making the area inaccessible for two days.

The barangay council of Carpenter Hill, which also declared a state of calamity, initially placed the damage caused by the floods to the area’s farmlands and properties at P3.6 million.

Miguel said at least 350 hectares of palay farmlands in the area have been destroyed by the floods but the Provincial Agriculture Office of South Cotabato said field reports reaching their office showed that the damaged palay area may reach more than 500 hectares.

“We will utilize our calamity funds to sustain the needs of our evacuees and fund the repair and rehabilitation of our damaged roads, water systems and other vital infrastructure,” he said.

The mayor said they will use a portion of the funds for the strengthening of the logistical capability of the city’s barangay-based disaster preparedness teams.

He said they will launch a study leading to the formulation of a comprehensive management plan that would address disaster-related concerns in the city. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)

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