Floods hit 9 Valencia barangays

TONGANTONGAN, Valencia City (MindaNews/3 March) – Floodwaters hit this city once more due to heavy rains Wednesday evening, inundating nine of its barangays just two days after another flood hit the area.

As of last count, houses of 620 families were inundated with water, but the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) have no figures yet as to how many were totally damaged nor how many left their homes.

There were no reports of casualties nor injuries, too, as of press time but CDRRMC executive officer Alejandro Larosa Jr. said damage to houses and crops is huge, prompting them to push for the city council to declare Valencia under a “state of calamity”.

He said the effect was so big that the city’s damage assessment team was not able to cope with the task the day after.

So far, only the situation in Tongantongan out of the nine flooded barangays has been assessed due to logistical constraints, city administrator Ira Potestas said.

The council’s disaster flash report as of 9 a.m. Thursday showed the location of the flood in four barangays – Bagonta-as, Poblacion Purok 6, Sugod, and Tongantongan. But as of 5 p.m. Larosa said five other barangays were flooded, too, namely, Catumbalon, Batangan, Sinayawan, Maapag, and Pinatilan.

A portion of Brgy. Poblacion, Batangan, and Catumbalon were flooded on February 28, leaving about 115 families affected and about P18.6 million worth of crops damaged.

Potestas said the effect of the Wednesday flood is even worse but they are unable to estimate exact figures as of late Thursday afternoon.

He added that they will work for the declaration of state of calamity to free mandatory relief funds for at least P8 million first thing next week.

Fifty-six-year-old church worker Alberto Bahian thought it was just like a typical night. So he went to the riverside to search for edible frogs. A few minutes later, he heard the sound of rushing water, much louder than the usual sound of the Maagap River. He rushed to the village’s Our Lady of Fatima chapel and sounded the alarm.

Most of the village’s center was flooded. Water entered houses, flooding them by at least a meter.

Bahian said it was the worst flood they have experienced since the 1960s, worse than the 1999 flood that also washed out belongings and crops.

Bahian’s fish pond with 300 heads of tilapia and African hito was washed out.

Federico Palange, Tongantongan barangay captain, reported a total of 495 families affected. They were yet unable to estimate cost of damages to property and crops.

Based on the barangay’s initial count Thursday morning, the flood damaged 79 hectares of rice farms, 58 has of corn, and 10.5 has of vegetables.

Palange lamented the flood’s effect to their backyard livestock industry as swine, chickens, ducks and turkeys were hit by the water, but he was quick to add most of these were saved.

The CDRRMC reported that that water overflowed in Tongantongan starting at 6:30 a.m. It subsided 10 p.m.

Classes were suspended in the village’s two elementary schools whole day on Thursday.

Residents blamed the flood to the balding mountains in the area between Valencia City and San Fernando town.

But others said the rain was just so heavy it defied the river’s path.

Palange said the worst hit area in Tongantongan is San Vicente where more than half of the 300 residents were affected. San Vicente is across the irrigation canal of the National Irrigation Administration.

Gingging Cabusong, 55, who lives 15 meters from the canal gate, said they heard the flood coming. “We now fear the river. It was so frightening to see Maapag River like that,” she said.

She added they were lucky the gate was closed a week earlier. If not, her neighborhood’s dwellings made of bamboo and wood could have been washed out.

Across the river at the other end of a steel hanging bridge, the Lentijas were helpless in the dark. Rose Lentija said the water was already half the height of their wooden house.

Still, she consider themselves lucky because no one was hurt. “But I lost my rice pot, plates, curtains, clothing, and FM radio set,” she was quick to add.

Jimmy Isidro and his family were forced to cross the underwater spillway to check their rice farm the day after the flood. They were dismayed to find out that their less than a hectare of rice farm was not spared.

Some residents reported that land fell in the hills in the village’s opposite end as rain poured heavily and water overflowed from the river.

Pentecostal pastor Benito Juarez Jr. said that the flood stripped his church’s walls and belongings. “It was shocking. We never expected it. We have to start rebuilding to move on,” he said. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)