Flood victims in Davao town say water rose too fast

STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur(MindaNews/ 31 August) – Twelve families have been evacuated to safer grounds following a flashflood on Thursday evening in Barangay Astorga here, the Office of Civil Defense-11 reported today (Friday).

Although residents estimated that at least a hundred families were actually affected by the flashflood, with the water level rising fast and the first time this deep in the village, the OCD-11 stressed that the local government reported only 12 displaced families who are living near the river.

Liza Mazo, OCD-11 chief, said that four houses were totally damaged while two others were partially destroyed.

On Friday morning, most residents of sitios Baybay, Mangga and Astorga were seen bringing out their belongings, including appliances, for drying, as the floodwater the night before rose up to five feet in less than 15 minutes.

Salome Evangelio, who lives just 50 meters away from the national highway, told Mindanews that the water rose so fast that they were not able to save their appliances and some game fowls.

In her 60s, Evangelio added they secured first the children into the rooftop using a bamboo ladder, because they fear that the water level might rise higher.

“We were afraid when the water was waist high, so we brought first our grandchildren to the rooftop. We have a ladder linked to a tall tree in case the water will rise further, the sari-sari store owner recalled.

Evangelio said her husband only saved 10 of their 18 game fowls as the floods swept them away.

Jonathan Caasi, in his 40s, also said in an interview that he first secured his three children into their neighbor’s two-storey house.

Like Evangelio, Caasi also recounted that the water level rose too fast, and was made worse by the high tide.

“Dili maka buwelo ang tubig padagat kay high tide man, naabot sa li-ug namo ang tubig (The floodwater couldn’t flow strongly toward the sea because of the high tide. The water level here was up to our neck),” he recalled, adding that the flood lasted for at least an hour.

Wasted bagoong

Bagoong (fermented fish paste) producer Elizabeth Abaricio lamented that 10 of the 20 barrels of their product have been wasted due to floodwater contamination.

She said they were supposed to sell the bagoong in the Bankerohan market in Davao City. Each barrel costs P3,000.

The floodwaters, which swept into the house of Abaricio in Sitio Baybay, reached breast high, the 58-year old vendor narrated.

Aside from the bagoong, Abaricio also disclosed that many of their dried fish products were also soaked in the floodwater. She could not immediately tell the losses for these.

Also in Sitio Baybay, the house of Antiga Cloves was swept away by raging floodwater almost into the sea.

“I first brought the children to an elevated portion. When I came back, our house was swept by floodwaters,” he said, noting that his house used to stand right in the path of a creek leading to the sea.

Cloves said the raging waters of the creek carried his house 20 meters away from its original position.

The 25-year old fisherman added that he immediately tied some ropes into his house and put them around a nearby cement post to prevent it from being carried into the sea.

First time

All of those who were interviewed by Mindanews admitted that it was the first time that floodwater level rose to over three feet.

Evangelio recalled that in the previous years, floodwaters would only reach their knees, especially if a nearby creek would overflow.

Helena Ibanez, 59, also said that they have been experiencing flood, especially during rainy season, because they are close to the creek.

“It was the first time to be this high. We failed to salvage our clothes, they were all soaked,” Ibanez lamented.

Classrooms flooded too

At the Astorga Central Elementary School, six classrooms were flooded, said school principal Raziel Francisco.

Francisco told Mindanews that the flooded classrooms are used by grades five and six students.

“This is also the first time that floodwaters entered our school. Some of our teachers were flood victims, too,” she said.

Some students were seen removing the foot-high floodwater from their classrooms using trash bins, pail and empty cans. (Keith Bacongco / Mindanews)