SouthCot sounds alert for possible floods, landslides

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/3 Jan) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is closely monitoring several critical rivers and upland areas in the province due to the possible occurrence of flashfloods and landslides in the wake of the continuing rains in the area.

The province’s precautionary measures came as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned that a low pressure area (LPA) spotted at 510 km East of General Santos City as of 8 a.m. Tuesday “may trigger flashfloods and landslides.”

The weather bureau said Mindanao will have mostly cloudy skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms, while widespread rains are expected over Eastern and Southern Mindanao

Isidro Janita, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief, advised residents situated in the upland communities and near the river banks to take extra precaution due to the continuous heavy rains.

He said they implemented a round-the-clock monitoring on the water levels of tributaries of the province’s major rivers, among them the flood-prone Allah and Banga rivers, to prevent possible disasters.

“Our main concern is the possible damming in some of our upstream rivers since they might later overflow and cause flashfloods,” he said.

Among the tributaries being watched by PDRRMO personnel is the Luhan River in T’boli, which was hit by a landslide last December 26.

A PDRRMO report cited that the landslide blocked a portion of the river, which drains at the Allah River, with about 10 feet high of stone debris and caused its water level to rise by five feet.

But Janita said their latest monitoring showed that the water flow in most of Allah and Banga rivers’ upstream tributaries, especially those located in the upland areas of T’boli and Lake Sebu, have remained normal.

Janita said the water levels and flow in outlets of crater-lake Holon (formerly Maughan) in T’boli have also remained below the critical levels.

In September 1995, a portion of the lake’s walls collapsed, triggering a flashflood that reportedly killed at least 80 people, some still missing up to now, and destroyed millions worth of agricultural crops and infrastructure.

The lake’s water levels usually rise during the rainy season but had not reached its critical level of 30 million cubic meters based on the provincial government’s monitoring.

“We’ve taken the necessary measures to make sure that the water flow from the lake to the downstream rivers, especially Allah, would remain normal and continuous,” Janita said. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)