65,000 families affected by floods in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 June) —  At least 65,000 families in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao) have been affected by the continuing floods in several parts of the region since last month, a regional social welfare official said.

Bonifacio Selma, disaster management unit chief of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Region 12, said their monitoring showed that at least 15 municipalities and two cities have been hit by floods triggered by almost daily heavy rains in the area during the last three weeks.

As of Sunday morning, he said the number of displaced and affected families has reached 65,702.

Hardest hit is North Cotabato, which listed some 37,421 families from 13 municipalities as directly affected by the floods, he said.

At least seven residents of North Cotabato were reported killed due to the calamity that struck the towns of Pikit, Carmen, Pigcawayan, Kabacan,
Tulunan, Mlang, Banisilan, Libungan, Aleosan, President Roxas, Magpet, Midsayap and Matalam.

In Cotabato City, Selma said some 25,402 families have been  displaced by the flood, which was triggered by the swelling of the Rio Grande de Mindanao and its tributaries.

He said at least 33 villages in Cotabato City have remained submerged in floodwaters, causing thousands of  residents to evacuate to higher grounds.

Selma said some 2,744 families from six villages in Lambayong town in Sultan Kudarat have evacuated due to the swelling of the critical Allah River while some 135 families in Tupi town in South Cotabato and in this city were also affected by recent flashfloods.

“Our relief operations are presently ongoing and we’re closely monitoring the developments in the affected areas so we can immediately respond in case the situation worsens,” he told a weekly radio program of the DSWD-12 aired over Bombo Radyo in Koronadal City Sunday morning.

Selma said they have so far distributed some P5.9 million worth of food packs and other relief goods to affected residents.

He said they have completed the distribution of family food packs and non-food relief items such as tarpaulins, plastic mats, mosquito nets and
“malong” blankets to the evacuees in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat and in Tupi, South Cotabato.

Selma said their relief operations are presently concentrated in several areas in North Cotabato and in Cotabato City.

He said the DSWD-Region 12 is currently assisting relief operations in 33 evacuation centers established by the Cotabato City government.

“We deployed our quick action response teams to Cotabato City to augment the local  government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts,” he said.

Selma said they assigned quick action response teams, composed of DSWD-12 personnel, to all evacuation centers in the area.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman has sent a team from the DSWD central office to Cotabato City to assess the situation and determine the
services needed by the affected residents, especially the evacuees.

Bai Zorahayda Taha, DSWD-12 regional director, said the top-level team is spearheaded by DSWD’s program management bureau director Patricia Luna.

“They will provide technical assistance regarding the ongoing relief operations and identify the additional services and assistance for the
affected residents, on top of the food items and other relief packs that we’ve been giving out,” she said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)