Sarangani seeks relocation of residents in danger zone

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 July)– The provincial government of Sarangani is working for the immediate relocation of residents settled at a portion of a riverside village in Malapatan town following the recent series of flashfloods and landslides that already affected 117 families there.

Rene Punzalan, Sarangani Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief, said Thursday they have recommended to the provincial government the resettlement of 41 families in Sitio Kalang of Barangay Kihan in Mapalatan town due to the possible occurrence of more landslides in the area.

He said the area, which is traversed by the critical Kihan River, was hit by landslides last July 22 that forced residents to evacuate to safer grounds.

Eight families were directly affected by the landslides while 33 other nearby families decided to leave their homes to ensure their safety, he said.

Punzalan said their assessment showed that the landslides were caused by the sporadic rains in the area in the last three weeks that already caused two major flashfloods along the Kihan River.

He said the floods, which were triggered by hours of torrential rains, were recorded last July 8 and on July 19.

“Due to the rains and the succeeding floods, the ground soil in portions of Sitio Kalang turned loose and eventually collapsed,” he told MindaNews.

PDRRMO records showed that the floods affected a total of 76 families in Barangay Kihan proper while around 100 hectares of farmlands were damaged due to the combined impact of the floods and landslides.

Among those affected were plantation areas of mango, coconut, coffee and banana.

As a result of the landslides, the official said they declared Sitio Kalang as a danger zone and off limits to residents or any housing and related structures.

Punzalan said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Region 12 earlier assessed the area as highly vulnerable to floods and landslide based on its geohazard mapping.

Owing to this, he said they directed the Malapatan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to find a suitable relocation site for the affected residents.

Aside from the relocation of the affected residents, Punzalan said they are presently preparing for the rehabilitation of the damaged flood control structures along the Kihan River.

He said they already acquired the needed cyclone wires and other materials that will be used for the re-propping of portions of the riverbanks, especially at Barangay Kihan proper.

The project will initially cover portions of the damaged flood control structures near the barangay hall of Kihan and a private property that hosts a warehouse and drier, he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)