In Baungon, ‘lessons from Sendong prepared us for Pablo’

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/12 December) – Apparently learning from storm Sendong that hit the town in December last year, the people of Baungon were more prepared when typhoon Pablo struck last week, although they still felt the pain of loss, said Richard Capin, the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office staffer who reported to the provincial government about the damage left by the typhoon in the town.

As of December 3, the day before the typhoon hit the province, 702 families or 3,042 persons fled their homes on account of preemptive evacuation. The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) accounted a total of 4,160 families or 20,338 residents affected by Pablo.

The MDRRMC reported only one casualty, Estilita Pat, 77 of Barangay Pualas. She died of “nervous attack” in the afternoon the typhoon passed the town, upon seeing that the roof of their house and that of their neighbor were blown away.
In December 2011, Sendong claimed 28 lives in the town with 17 injured and 53 missing persons.

“This time we have prepared for ‘Pablo.’ No one was able to prepare for the havoc of Sendong,” Capin said.

He cited that the local government unit and a partner nongovernment organization gave at least three exposure trainings. He said these included a pre-disaster preparation seminar, climate change adaptation, and flood drill for barangay chairs, Barangay DRRMC officers, treasurers, and secretaries.

In the morning of December 3, the MDRRMC convened to finalize preparations. After lunch, he added, the Barangay DRRMC started evacuations in at least 11 high risk areas including Lingating, Liboran, Buenavista, and Pualas, where there were also casualties left by tropical storm Sendong.

In Lingating, where 11 died during Sendong, 74 families or 309 persons sought refuge in the old barangay hall.
The biggest evacuation was in Langaon where 169 families or 681 persons trooped to a church building and the barangay hall. The village lost two residents to Sendong last year, Capin noted.
Since two of its hanging bridges were destroyed Langaon remained isolated as of December 10.

Pablo left 46 houses totally damaged and 801 partially damaged in the town. But Capin said they are lucky that the typhoon only brought strong winds but not much rains.

In Bubunawan River, where a power facility was swept by Sendong the water level was only eight meters unlike in Nicdao where it was 39 meters.

He said the Municipal DRRMC already recommended placing the town under a state of calamity for approval  by the Sangguniang Bayan next Wednesday.

In her report, Nenita Navarez, municipal DRRMC operations officer, recommended that the construction and rehabilitation of destroyed bridges be sped up.

She said that with the hanging bridges destroyed, it has become difficult to transport agricultural produce.

She reported that Pablo destroyed three hanging bridges and five spillways built by the provincial government in the town estimated to cost P22.87 million.

One of these, Navarez noted, is the Tumalaong spillway which connected the poblacion to seven barangays.
As of 4p.m. Monday, aside from Baungon, the towns of San Fernando, Cabanglasan, Talakag, Damulog, Libona, Quezon, Dangcagan, and Pangantucan had submitted their final reports on the damages brought by typhoon Pablo.

The PDRRMC set December 10 as deadline for submission of final reports in preparation for the provincial board regular session today.

Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. said the provincial board last week passed a resolution placing Bukidnon under a state of calamity and allotted P126 million as calamity fund.  (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)