950 hectares of rice farms flooded in Valencia City

SAN ISIDRO, Valencia City (MindaNews/29 Dec) – About 950 hectares of rice farms in Valencia City have been underwater because of last Tuesday’s flashfloods, the provincial agriculture office reported.

Estelita Madjos, deputy to the provincial agriculturist, said that the flashfloods affected the rice farmers most. Valencia, she noted, has at least 10,000 hectares of rice farms as of December 2011.

Madjos said there is an overflow of water from the Pulangi River but it might not be useful to farmlands in the rice-producing villages along its path.

The Bukidnon office of the National Irrigation Administration also reported a damaged irrigation siphon facility in San Isidro village that serves at least 200 hectares of rice-producing villages in the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia.

The facility, a concrete rectangular structure with cylindrical interior used to siphon water from the Pulangi River to the irrigational canal, was carried by floodwaters Tuesday morning and is now stuck a few meters below the 37-year-old Pulangi Bridge here. Thus, it could not supply water to the farms anymore, said Engr. Jimmy Apostol, NIA-Bukidnon irrigation manager.

NIA estimates that damage to the irrigation infrastructure is at P50 million.

Apostol said that at least P30-million worth of rice farms served by the flooded irrigation siphon facility will be totally damaged if water will not flow back to the irrigation canals again.

Authorities have closed the Pulangi Bridge for big trucks as its approaches were partially damaged.

Barangay Captain Henry Ladesma showed to MindaNews the damage to the bridge’s riprap protecting the foundation to the approach.

The bridge connects southeastern villages of Malaybalay such as Bangcud, Aglayan, and Violeta to Valencia’s interior villages and is a shorter route going to San Fernando town from the northern part of Bukidnon.

Estanislao Aniana, 60, said it was the strongest flood they experienced since 1982, when another flood caused the swelling of the Pulangi River

“The fresh image of Sendong victims and survivors drove us out from our dwellings,” he said, adding that they usually just stay in their house and wait for the water level to go down.

Ladesma said water started to rise at 2 a.m. When it did not subside early morning, he immediately ordered the evacuation of residents in the riverbanks. A total of 560 of the 660 families left to seek safer grounds, but most of them returned as soon as the water subsided, starting Tuesday afternoon.

Residents climbed to their roofs or the trees to wait for rescuers as rampaging waters from the Pulangi River invaded houses in 10 of Valencia’s 31 barangays. At the peak of the flood, water level rose by four meters, according to Alejandro Larosa Jr., executive officer of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC).

The flashfloods displaced an estimated 1,146 families in the city’s riverside barangays, according to initial estimates from the City Social Welfare and Development Office released Tuesday.

As of Wednesday, 1,332 families have been listed in the evacuation sites, according to the CDRRMC.

The city gymnasium was used for the first time to accommodate residents who left their homes by the riverbanks. It is the city’s biggest evacuation camp; smaller evacuation camps were set up in the nine other affected barangays. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)