Floods hamper voting in South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 October) — Voting in some parts of nearby Koronadal City and South Cotabato province were hampered on Monday morning due to severe floods that were triggered by continuous heavy rains since Sunday night.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Monday the floods mainly affected the downtown area and several riverside communities in Koronadal City and two other farming villages in nearby Tantangan town.

“Several roads are still not accessible to light vehicles and has been slowing down the movement of some voters to the polling centers,” she said.

The governor specifically cited a portion of the national highway in Barangay San Felipe in Tantangan, which remained submerged by knee-deep floodwaters as of 8 a.m.

She said another road network in Barangay Tinongcop in Tantangan was shut down early Monday by a landslide.

Fuentes said they are presently coordinating with the municipal government of Tantangan, which initially reported that a number of residents in some low-lying areas were trapped by floodwaters late Sunday night.

In Koronadal, City Administrator Cyrus Urbano initially confirmed that four houses in barangays Zone III and Paraiso were totally destroyed after being swept by rushing floodwaters early Monday but cited that no casualties were reported.

Three houses in Puroks Hechanova and San Miguel in Barangay Paraiso were damaged due to the swelling of a creek in the area.

At the city’s downtown area, Urbano said the floods mainly affected communities traversed by the critical Bulok Creek.

The official said among the areas affected by the floods, which were caused by heavy rains in the city’s upland barangays, were parts of the city’s main commercial district, old city hall compound, the city central public market and residential communities within Barangay Zone III of Poblacion.

Portions of the area were submerged by knee to waist-deep floodwaters, affecting a number of business establishments and residential structures.

“Most of the roads within the flooded areas are only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles so far,” he said.

But Urbano, who heads the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said they have not received any report of flooding in designated polling centers for Monday’s barangay elections.

“There were some noted flushing of floodwaters but they have subsided so far,” he said.

Urbano advised residents situated near critical tributaries — Marbel River and Bulok Creek — to remain vigilant and immediately evacuate in case the floodwaters would rise anew.

He noted that the area’s weather condition has remained gloomy and heavy rains might ensue anytime within the day.

“Those located in vulnerable upland areas, especially near steep slopes, should also evacuate to safer areas as landslides might possibly occur,” he said.

Meantime, Gov. Fuentes said they have already mobilized our disaster teams to the affected areas to assess the situation and recommend the necessary interventions.

She instructed the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office to prepare the relief assistance for the affected residents.

Fuentes added that personnel from the Provincial Engineering Office and Department of Public Works and Highways already proceeded to Tantangan town to reopen the landslide-hit road and clean up some clogged drainage systems to help ease the floods. (MindaNews)