Floods displace 360 families in 2 Malaybalay villages

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/07 Oct.) – At least 360 families or over 500 individuals evacuated after floods hit the adjoining barangays of Aglayan and Cabangahan on Saturday afternoon, the City Social Welfare and Development Office reported.

Most of the evacuees, about 300 families, were from Cabangahan. They sought shelter in the cottages around their barangay hall, said Lourdes dela Torre of BECO Foundation, one of the organizations that distributed relief goods to the flood victims on Sunday.

Dela Torre said the barangay council reported on Sunday afternoon that 21 houses were totally destroyed by floodwaters.

Earlier on the same day, Anatolio Abellanosa of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) Emergency Rescue Team said 20 more houses in Puroks 3, 4, and 8 in Cabangahan and eight others in Aglayan were partially damaged.

Residents said the floodwaters came from upland Malaybalay City and Lantapan town.

Intermittent heavy rains brought by storm “Ramil” fell in Malaybalay over the weekend bringing knee-deep floodwaters in the two villages on Saturday afternoon, according to residents who responded to MindaNews’ query over the phone and on Facebook.

Vehicles were stranded for about three hours on Saturday, they added.

Jose Atienza Jr. of radio station DXDB reported that motor vehicles were able to cross the floodwaters around 7p.m. on Saturday

Photos posted on Facebook by residents showed that flooded areas included those near an irrigation canal and stores in Aglayan’s commercial district.

CDRRMO rescuers responded to distress calls from residents who were unable to get out of their houses.

The CSWDO distributed relief goods in both villages. But dela Torre said that aside from food, the residents needed sleeping mats, blankets, clothing, and drinking water.

Floods had hit the two villages in previous years.

In June last year, barangay officials of Cabangahan noted that their place appears to be a catchment basin making it prone to floods.

Barangay chair Edwin Rara said this puts some 200 of the village’s 649 families at risk, and they may have to be relocated.

Village officials blamed the flashfloods on the lack of flood control measures in the uplands, where fruit plantations dominate the landscape.

But Rara said last year that the Lapanday Diversified Products Corporation’s alleged faulty canals contributed to the flashfloods.

He said the firm operates a 100-hectare pineapple plantation in Purok 3, an upland portion of the barangay.

Village officials said the floods that hit the area over the years were caused by the firm’s land preparation activities.

But Rara clarified that while the firm needed to reroute its canals it can only be “partially blamed” for the flashfloods.

He added that company officials promised to remove silt in the Cabangahan Creek and in other drainage canals in the barangay that usually clogged.

Alex Ricaforte, Lapanday’s land association supervisor told MindaNews last year they had been meeting with the barangay officials about the need to reroute the company’s canals.

He added that they had already “programmed work to clear the silts” but that they were just overtaken by the flood.

Rara said they have asked the Department of Public Works and Highways to replace its narrow culverts with bigger ones to prevent clogging.

In the December 2007 floods, Virginia Flores, CSWDO chief said Cabangahan and Aglayan are “natural flood plains.”

Flores blamed the floods then on the alleged faulty design of the national highway. She said it was constructed in a way that has altered the course of floodwaters from areas in higher elevations. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)