OCD-12 warns folk in flood-prone areas

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 February) – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao warned Thursday residents situated in coastal areas and flood-prone lowland communities in the region on the possibility of flashfloods and other calamities as heavy rains are expected in the coming days.

Jerome Barranco, OCD Region 12 assistant director, issued the warning based on an advisory issued by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) that the current weather pattern showed that the region may continue to experience sporadic rains within the next few weeks.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We should remain vigilant and regularly monitor the weather advisories so we can act or respond properly in case disasters will occur,” Barranco said.

On Thursday, Pagasa released an advisory noting an approaching Shallow Low Pressure Area that was estimated at 940 kilometers east of Davao City based on satellite and surface data.

This week, Barranco said they recorded at least two major weather-related incidents in the region that directly affected more than 200 families.

He said at least 170 houses had been destroyed when huge sea waves and strong winds accompanied by a twister battered portions of the coastal municipalities of Glan in Sarangani and Kalamansig in Sultan Kudarat early last Tuesday.

Citing an initial report submitted by the local government of Glan, he said the tornado destroyed 130 houses in Barangay Burias and three more in Barangay Pangyan.

But as of Thursday morning, Glan Mayor Victor James Yap said their assessment showed that more than 160 houses, mostly made of light materials, had been damaged due to the onslaught of the twister.

In Kalamansig town, Barranco said some 115 families were forced to leave their homes after strong winds and huge sea waves swept several coastal communities in the area last Tuesday.

He said the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Kalamansig reported that at least 19 houses were totally damaged while 18 other houses sustained partial damage due to the calamity.

Bonifacio Selma, disaster operations chief of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12, said the local governments of Glan and Kalamansig already extended relief assistance to the affected residents, especially the evacuees.

He said the agency has not yet released any assistance to the affected areas as they were still waiting for a formal request from their respective local governments.

“(But) we’re ready to augment their relief operations. We have standby supplies of relief goods that may be released anytime upon the request of the concerned local government unit,” he said.

Aside from the relief goods, Selma added that the DSWD may also release shelter assistance to residents who lost their homes as a result of the recent calamity. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)