Floods hit GenSan, Cotabato City

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – At least 17 families from a riverside community here have been displaced as flashfloods swept anew the area Wednesday evening.

City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said Thursday a portion of Purok Matinabangon in Barangay Labangal here remained submerged in floodwaters due to the swelling of the critical Silway River at the
height of heavy rains in the area on Wednesday afternoon.

She said no casualties have been reported but the floods washed away at least two houses, several animal sheds and farm animals.

“We immediately ordered the evacuation of the affected families due to the rising volume of floodwaters coming from the river,” the mayor said.

Custodio, who rushed to the scene Wednesday evening, said she has directed the City Social Welfare and Development Office to provide immediate assistance to the affected families.

She also instructed the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the City Engineer’s Office to conduct a regular monitoring of the river’s water level and implement remedial measures to prevent further flooding in the area.

Engr. Mark Reyes, acting city engineer, said they have assigned at least two bulldozers to the area to conduct a partial rechanneling of the river Thursday morning.

“We will prop up the riverbanks and clear the main waterway to prevent the floodwaters from flowing towards the nearby communities,” he said in a radio interview.

As long-term solution, he said they are planning to establish a dike and rechannel the river to allow the normal flow of water towards the Sarangani Bay.

Reyes said they have been closely monitoring the situation in the area now due to the onset of the heavy rains since last week.

On Wednesday afternoon, he said they dispatched one of their bulldozers to conduct a remedial clearing of the river but they later pulled out due to its rising water level.

He said the bulk of the floodwaters were mainly from the river’s tributaries in the upland portion of nearby Polomolok town in South Cotabato.

“We’re targeting to complete the clearing of the river by today but it will still depend on our weather condition,” he added.

In Cotabato City, eight barangays were submerged Wednesday after the Rio Grande de Mindanao overflowed owing to water hyacinths that covered an estimated eight hectares of the river.

The Department of Public Works and Highways Region 12 today started cleaning up the river of the hyacinths using backhoes, watermaster as well as manual means.

In the poblacion, a house owned by the Ibrahim family looked like a swimming pool and they could not use their toilet.

Children had to be carried to the schools to avoid getting wet. People had to wade across knee-deep waters.

“I don’t have to ask for help, they know our situation here,” Kimon Angkay, a grandmother, said in Tagalog.

Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. has ordered the evacuation of affected residents to higher portions of the city. He also told the local disaster management body and the social welfare office to attend to the needs of some 500 families affected by the floods.

Floodwaters were expected to rise with the onset of a low pressure area and the influx of more hyacinths from Liguasan Marsh into the Rio Grande de Mindanao. (Allen V. Estabillo and Ferdinanh Cabrera/MindaNews)