Koronadal’s disaster response council wants state of calamity declared

GENERAL SANTOS CITY  (MindaNews/13 September) — The City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC) of Koronadal City has recommended the declaration of the area under a state of calamity following Friday’s flashfloods and landslides that left at least five people dead and an estimated P25 million worth of damage to crops and property.

Koronadal Mayor Peter Miguel, who chairs the CDCC, said Monday they passed a resolution during an emergency meeting and assessment on Sunday, urging an immediate calamity declaration by the City Council due to the impact of the recent calamity, which affected at least 11 barangays.

“The resolution states that we are already in a state of calamity and we need immediate augmentation form our calamity funds so we can properly respond to the situation,” the mayor said.

He said they expect the City Council to issue an official declaration during its special session scheduled Tuesday afternoon.

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

Citing results of the CDCC’s preliminary evaluation, Miguel said Friday’s calamity affected Barangays San Isidro, Assumption, Saravia, Carpenter Hill, 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, he said.

As of noon Monday, the CDCC said some 67 families from the area have already evacuated and took temporary shelter at the Bacongco Elementary School.

Overall, the mayor said they recorded at least 20 houses and around 350 hectares of farmlands as damaged.

In Barangay Caloocan alone, village officials estimated that some 150 hectares of palay in the area were ravaged by the floods.

Miguel said the damaged infrastructure included roads, bridges, water systems, dikes and line canals.

“Our assessment is still ongoing but our field personnel initially placed the damage at around P15 to P25 million,” he said.

Mary Jane Gabucan, City Social Welfare and Development Office chief, said they intend to use the city government’s calamity funds to augment their ongoing relief operations and fund the rehabilitation of the areas affected by the calamity.

She said they will beef up their relief stocks, especially the food supply, to sustain the needs of the evacuees pending clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) for their return to their home.

Jaime Flores, MGB-Region 12’s chief geologist, said they restricted the evacuees from Sitio Upper Acub of Barangay San Isidro from returning to their homes until the rehabilitation works and their ongoing evaluation of the area’s condition are completed.

Citing their initial findings, he said the affected area is considered a high-risk zone due to the weak soil make-up of the surrounding mountains and the presence of critical waterways or creeks.

“The area is flood and landslide zone based on our previous mapping and based on its land-use classification, it’s a place to make a living and not a place to live in,” he said.

But Flores said they were not recommending the total closure of the area for now as it will significantly affect the livelihood of local residents.

“We will allow the evacuees to later return to the area provided they are properly educated and equipped to respond in case similar disasters would again occur. So while they are still in the evacuation centers, we will train and organize them into disaster response  teams,” he said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)