SouthCot village off limits due to floods

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 July) — The municipal government of Polomolok town in South Cotabato has closed down a riverside community in the area following the flashfloods over the weekend that displaced around 500 residents.

Rodelen Atimonan, Polomolok Municipal Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) head, said Wednesday the local government declared Purok Riverside in Barangay Silway 8 as a danger zone due to the possible occurrence of more major flashfloods.

“The entire area was also declared as restricted or off limits to any housing and related structures so all residents there will be relocated,” he said in a radio interview.

A total of 144 families or 513 individuals evacuated from Purok Riverside last Saturday due to flashfloods along the critical Matin-ao River.

The floods were triggered by hours of heavy rains spawned by the prevailing Intertropical Convergence Zone.

A report from the MDRRMO cited that 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.

It said 89 families or 342 individuals are currently taking temporary shelter at the Silway 8 barangay hall and gymnasium.

Atimonan said they will no longer allow the evacuees to return to the area and will instead relocate them to a safer site.

“The relocation will cover families or residents who were not affected by the calamity,” he said.

Atimonan said the local government is presently working on the immediate acquisition and development of a relocation site within Barangay Silway 8.

Dante Cosep, Barangay Silway 8 chair, said they have recommended to the MDRRMC the purchase of a three-hectare property adjacent to the barangay hall as relocation site for Purok Riverside residents.

He said the proposed site would be enough to host the 173 families previously settled in Purok Riverside.

Based on their initial negotiations, Cosep said the landowner agreed to sell the property at P1 million per hectare or a total of P3 million.

“Once the purchase of the property is finalized, we will divide the area to the affected residents at 80 square meters each,” he said.

Cosep said that as ordered by the MDRRMC, Purok Riverside will be totally shut down to local residents.

He said the municipal government instead decided to rehabilitate the area and will be planted with bamboo and other trees. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)