Riverbank folk in CDO panic as heavy rains fall

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/05 June)— Heavy rains on Monday brought by the first storm to enter the country this year made residents along the Cagayan River panic, a reaction apparently caused by memories of the tragedy caused by storm Sendong in December last year.

“When the rain started to get even harder after two straight hours, I felt goose bumps on my nape and arms. I really thought I was over our harrowing experience with Sendong. I admit, I panicked a bit,” a visibly shaken Clifford Huerbana, a long-time resident of Isla Bugnao in Barangay Consolacion said.

Huerbana’s house stands 50 meters from the river, which started to swell after two hours of rain.

Rain volume on Monday reached at least 50 mm in five hours, according to the Mindanao office of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Huerbana said he wanted to start packing up his things but could not understand why he could not seem to do so.

“Daghan na kaayo mga plano nakong buhaton pero murag nanggahi man hinuon ko (I had many plans what to do but I seemed to be frozen with fear.),” he said.

By 4:00 pm yesterday, motorela driver Lourderico Pedimonte of Isla Kupa, also in Barangay Consolacion, wheedled all his passengers off his motorela because he was worried over the safety of his family at home.

“Ako na lang gyud sila gihangyo nga manaog kay nabalaka na ko nga magtulo na ka oras ang kusog nga ulan (I had no choice but to tell all my passengers to alight because I feared for my family with the rain still pouring hard after three hours.),” said Pedimonte.

In its advisory issued at 5pm Monday, Pagasa reported having located Typhoon Ambo (international codename: Mawar) “490 km east northeast of Basco, Batanes with maximum sustained winds of 140 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 170 kph. It moved north northeast at 17 kph.”

Ambo carried maximum sustained winds of 140 km near its center and gustiness of at least 170 kph, the public weather advisory added.

However, the weather agency also monitored a low pressure area “estimated based on satellite and surface data at 760 km east of southern Mindanao.”

In a phone interview, Monday evening, Pagasa Mindanao Chief Weather Forecaster Mario Guya said their rain gauge at the Synoptic Station in Libona, Bukidnon recorded a rainfall of 50 mm.

He added “a rainfall of 7.5 mm and above is already considered heavy rain.”

Guya said the downpour was brought about partly by the southwest monsoon (Habagat) which usually signals the start of the wet season in the country.

“Although Typhoon Ambo was already exiting our area of responsibility, it was so strong that it continued to develop the advance cloudiness over southern Mindanao,” he said.

Consolacion was one of the hardest hit communities when floods brought by Sendong affected 41 of the city’s 80 barangays. Six months after the worst calamity to hit this city in decades, 1,979 people have remained missing.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development said in its June 4 updated report that Sendong affected 38,125 families or 226,778 individuals. Of these, only 2,603 families or 9,885 persons are housed in 34 evacuation centers and temporary shelters. A total of 33,369 families or 201,571 chose to live it out in their homes or relocate elsewhere in the city.

The floods caused by Sendong also hit Iligan City and parts of Libona town in Bukidnon. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)