GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 22 July) – Around 250 families have been displaced as flashfloods and big coastal waves swept several villages in this city and nearby South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces in the last three days.
Jerome Barranco, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region 12 acting director, said Monday the floods and the surge in coastal waves were caused by torrential rains and strong winds spawned by the prevailing Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).
He said two riverside villages in this city and one in Polomolok town in South Cotabato were affected by the flashfloods while five communities in a coastal village in Maasim, Sarangani were battered by the big waves.
Hardest hit was Purok Riverside of Barangay Silway 8 in Polomolok where 144 families or a total of 513 individuals have already evacuated as a result of the floods, which started on Saturday afternoon.
The floods in the area were caused by the swelling of the critical Matin-ao River following hours of heavy rains, said Silway 8 barangay chair Dante Cosep.
A report from the Polomolok Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) said no casualties were reported as a result of the incident but it damaged 89 houses, 20 of which were totally destroyed after being washed away by the rushing floodwaters.
As of Monday morning, it said 342 individuals are taking temporary shelter at the Silway 8 barangay hall and gymnasium.
Cosep said the barangay council and the MDRRMO already released initial food assistance and other relief goods to the evacuees.
He said they are planning to seek the permanent relocation of the affected residents from the flooded area as it is quite close to the river and is considered a danger zone.
“We will not allow them to return to the area and work out their relocation instead,” he said in a radio interview.
In this city, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDDRMO) reported that 10 families from Purok Kindat and 16 from Purok Bulaong Extension in Barangay Labangal while eight other families from Purok Silway Fatima in Barangay Dadiangas West have also evacuated due to the floods.
Two residents reportedly suffered minor injuries while fleeing from their flooded houses, it said.
The floods, which destroyed four houses, were triggered anew by the swelling of the Silway River, said Hanna Juaquino of the CDRRMO.
She said that aside from the 34 families that have evacuated, 260 other households situated in communities along the banks of the Silway River were affected by the floods but remained in their homes.
Silway River, which flows to Sarangani Bay, is the main outlet of the Matin-ao River and several other river-tributaries from the upland areas in South Cotabato.
Barranco said that in Maasim town in Sarangani, five coastal puroks of Barangay Malbang were battered by strong winds and big waves at the height of the heavy rains last Saturday.
He said the Maasim MDRRMO reported that 76 families were affected by the incident.
“According to the MDRRMO report, there were some fishing boats and houses that were damaged in the area,” Barranco said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.
The official reiterated that the flood and landslide alerts remain in effect in Region 12 due to the prevailing ITCZ.
Citing thunderstorm advisory number 09 issued by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), he said residents should take extra precaution from the expected heavy rains, lighting, strong flashfloods and landslides.
“Those in identified flood-prone areas should avoid passing by moving waters,” Barranco added.