ASUNCION, Davao del Norte (MindaNews/15 January) — Rains brought about by wind convergence triggered floods in seven Mindanao towns and two cities over the weekend. But learning lessons from the December tragedy in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, local government units now busy improving their disaster response and risk reduction capabilities, a number of them already enforcing preemptive evacuation of residents in high-risk zones.
In its Weather Advisory 4 issued at 10:30 a.m. on January 15, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the wind convergence “will bring mostly cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms in Mindanao becoming widespread rains in Southern Mindanao which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.”
Floods were reported in the cities of Valencia and Bislig and in the towns of Compostela in Compostela Valley province; in Asuncion, Carmen and Kapalong towns in Davao del Norte; and in the towns of Tago, Barobo and San Miguel in Surigao del Sur, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in its 8 p.m. January 14 report.
In Valencia City, flooding due to increase in the water level of Pulangui River, was reported in Barangays Batangan, Catumbalon, Maapag, Poblacion and Sugod. “Residents near the riverbanks and in the low-lying areas conducted preemptive evacuation,” the report said. In Bislig City, knee-deep flood was reported in Barangay Cumawan on January 13 and 80 families who earlier sought higher ground had returned to their homes as of 7 p.m. that same day, the NDRRMC said.
In Compostela Valley Province, flooding was reported in barangays Poblacion and Ngan in Compostela town also on January 13. “Floodwater has subsided but evacuees remain in evacuation centers,” the NDRRMC report said.
The report recorded 106 families in Barangay Poblacion who evacuated to the Compostela Central Elementary School and Macapagal High School while 19 families in Barangay Ngan evacuated to the barangay hall.
In Surigao del Sur province, floods were reported in the towns of Tago, Barobo and San Miguel on January 13.
Barangay Gamut in Tago installed early warning signage on landslide-prone area and DPWH Dist 1 Engineering Office installed water level gauge along Gamut-Kinabigtasan Road, the NDRRMC report said.
The report said Barangay Javier in Barbobo town, and barangays San Roque, Libasood, Bolhoon, Barans and Umalag were impassable.
In Davao del Norte, flooding was reported in the towns of Asuncion and Carmen starting at 8:30 p.m. on January 13 when Saug River overflowed.
In Kapalong town, preemptive evacuation was enforced as floodwaters rose. Five families were reported to have evacuated to the Maniki Central Elementary School flooding.
“My husband is still there”
Portions of the highway leading to Tagum City from Kapalong were still under water as of mid-afternoon Saturday.
Puroks 11 and 13 in Barangay Poblacion, Asuncion was a virtual sea with only the roofs of one-storey houses and the second floor of two-storey houses still visible from the highway.
“My husband is still there,” 63-year old Pilar Lisa, said in Cebuano, as she waited on the roadside for Glicero, 57.
“I haven’t had breakfast or lunch,” the teary-eyed Lisa said, as she held on to a plastic bag containing a kilo of uncooked rice and another plastic bag of uncooked fish.
She said she fled their house near an irrigation canal for the nearby banana plantation, at around 7 a.m. when the water was thigh-high.
Her husband was supposed to follow but was apparently trapped by the floodwaters.
Neneng Gordon, 47, mother of 14, pointed to her two-storey house about 300 meters from the highway, the floodwaters nearly reaching the second floor where some family members remained, including her two-month grandchild.
A raft made of banana trunks transported them to the highway. The raft returned to fetch the rest.
These areas were also under water on December 17 at the height of typhoon Sendong’s wrath and on December 27 because of the low pressure area.
As of 3 pm on Saturday, flooding incidents on January 13 and 14 were reported in at least 24 villages in eight of Asuncion’s 20 barangays, Jesus Florentino, Action Officer of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC), told MindaNews.
Mayor Joseph Nilo Parrenas convened the MDRRMC at 9 a.m. on Saturday “to plan rescue and relief operations with Provincial rescue team bringing with them two rubber boats.”
Florentino acknowledged that the town has yet to procure rescue equipment and barangays have no flood warning systems.
Lisa told MindaNews they have no flood warning systems in their barangay.
Florentino said they are now addressing these problems. Within the first quarter, the MCRRMC is conducting a series of trainings on disaster response and risk reduction for 14 consecutive Sundays.
He said the MDRRMC, set up in July 2011, has responded to three floodings – on December 17. 27 and the weekend.
Mayor Parrenas joined 1003rd Infantry Brigade chief Col. Lysander Suerte in an aerial survey of the flooded areas.
The NDRRMC also reported that in Bislig City, Mayor Librado Navarro issued an executive order on the Information dissemination of landslide threat advisory and establishment of immediate measures for risk reduction in landslide-and erosion-prone areas in Barangays Cumawa, Mangagoy, Tabon, Labisma, Pamaypayan, San Jose, San Antonio and San Isidro.
The City DRMMC also set up warning signages in the barangays and advised residents to temporarily evacuate to a safer area.
In Barangay Gamut, Tago, Surigao del Sur, the Barangay DRRM Committee installed early warning signage in landslide-prone along the national highway. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)