South Cotabato town to be placed under state of calamity

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 January) — Officials of Norala town in South Cotabato are set to declare the entire area under the state of calamity following the floods on Sunday night that submerged seven of its barangays.

Romeo Nunag, focal person of the Norala Municipal Risk Reduction Management Council (MDRRMC), said Monday they are presently conducting an assessment of the damages wrought by the floods on infrastructures and agricultural crops to facilitate the calamity declaration.

He said the declaration will be issued either by the MDRRMC, through its chair Mayor Victor Balayon, or by the Sangguniang Bayan.

Nunag said the MDRRMC made initial discussions on the matter during an emergency meeting called by Balayon on Sunday night.

Around 79 hectares of farmlands and residential communities in the area were swamped by floodwaters on Sunday night due to the swelling of several rivers.

The affected areas were barangays Esperanza, Poblacion, Lapuz, San Jose, Liberty, Simsiman and Matapol.

An MDRRMC report cited that 526 families had been so far affected by the floods in Norala, which is considered one of the province’s rice granaries.

Officials said a bridge and various agriculture crops were reported as damaged as a result of the calamity.

Joel Dimput, provincial barangay affairs chief, said their initial verification and assessment showed that Matapol was hit hardest by the floods.

But he said San Jose posted the most number of affected families with 180, followed by Matapol with 117, Lapuz with 102, Sisiman with 45, Liberty with 40, Esperanza with 35 and Poblacion with 7.

Dimput said they are presently determining the number of affected families for the distribution of food packs and other relief items.

Meantime, Nunag said they are closely monitoring the area’s situation due to the continuing rains spawned by a Low Pressure Area and the effects of the prevailing Inter-tropical Convergence Zone.

“We advised the barangay councils to immediately evacuate residents situated within the high risk areas in case the situation worsens later on,” he said in a radio interview.

Nunag added that the MDRRMC has set the delivery on Monday afternoon of the initial food packs and relief items for the affected residents. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)