Over 1,000 families displaced by floods in Southwest Mindanao

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 January) — At least 1,102 families from this city and nearby provinces of Sarangani and South Cotabato have been affected by severe floods caused by the continuing rains in the area in the last three days.

Jerome Barranco, Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Region assistant director, said Tuesday three major flooding incidents have been so far reported in the region as a result of the almost nonstop rains spawned by the entry of another Low Pressure Area (LPA) and the continuing Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) affecting Mindanao.

In Norala town in South Cotabato, seven villages were hit by severe flooding on Sunday afternoon due to the overflowing of several rivers.

The floods directly affected some 526 families, damaged a bridge and about 79 hectares of palay farmlands, a report from the Norala Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Several villages in the city were also submerged in floodwaters due to the swelling of irrigation channels and other waterways traversing various low-lying villages following hours of heavy rains.

Citing a report from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC), Barranco said the areas that were hit hardest by the floods were barangays Lagao, Dadiangas Heights, Baluan and Bula.

As of Tuesday morning, he said 558 families in Barangay Baluan were already affected by the floods, which remained knee-deep high in some portions of the area.

He said two families were evacuated by the CDRRMC to the BaluanBarangay Hall on Monday afternoon due to the rising floodwaters.

“The CDRRMC is currently conducting ocular surveys and continuously monitoring the situation in the affected areas,” Barranco said in a radio interview.

Lawyer Jose Mariano Gonzales, city administrator, said local government personnel are presently clearing up some clogged waterways to avert further flooding in some critical areas in the city.

During a CDRRMC meeting on Monday, he said they found out that among the major causes of the floods was the clogging of garbage along some drainage canals and portions of the irrigation line canals of the National Irrigation Administration.

Gonzales said Mayor Darlene Antonino Custodio, who presided over the meeting, directed the immediate release of food and relief assistance for the affected residents.

He said they also sought assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Health to augment the relief operations, especially in terms of the provision of food packs and Oresol to disinfect the drinking water in the flooded areas.

Meantime, in Sarangani Province, Barranco said 18 families in Barangay Pangyan in Glan town were displaced on Monday due to a flashflood.

He said no casualties were reported during the incident, which was caused by the overflowing of the Pangyan River at the height of the heavy rains in the area.

Glan MDRRMC’s quick response team was able to respond immediately and evacuated the affected families, he said.

Barranco said the provincial government provided immediate relief assistance composed of rice and canned goods to the evacuees.

The official said the flood and landslide alerts remained in effect in this city and other parts of Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region due to the continuing rains.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We’re currently making rounds of some areas in the region, especially the barangays that were identified as high risk to floods and landslides as well as other critical areas,” Barranco added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)