NEW BATAAN, Compostela Valley (MindaNews/12 November) – Around 100 families in Barangay Andap have evacuated to safer grounds after this province was placed under Storm Signal No. 1 due to tropical depression Zoraida.
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has placed the province, along with 16 other provinces in Mindanao, under Signal Number 1 as Zoraida made a landfall in Caraga town in Davao Oriental around 9am Tuesday.
Most of the families who evacuated were from the evacuation center in Andap National High School and some are those living along the pile of rocks and boulders.
The families in the evacuation centers have lived in makeshift tents for 11 months now after typhoon Pablo devastated this town and left at least 400 persons killed and 400 others missing.
Some of the families have rebuilt shanties near the debris flow that almost wiped out Andap.
Lando Balliner, head of the barangay police, told MindaNews the local government ordered the preemptive evacuation on Monday morning.
Balliner said preemptive evacuation was necessary as the water in Mayo River might overflow and change its course again.
He added the residents were wary that heavy rains brought by Zoraida may cause flashfloods.
Nonoy Leon, one of the evacuees, said he followed the order for the safety of his family.
Leon is one of the families that had already spent a night in the relocation site, which is set to be turned over to the typhoon survivors by the end of the month.
Ana Saigad also told MindaNews that she evacuated with her two brothers aged 11 and 3.
The relocation site is located in Purok 5 of Andap. It is about 500 meters away from the school.
The houses are made of light materials like amakan, nipa and coco lumber.
Balliner said most of the villagers who evacuated were those living in the makeshift tents.
Some refused to leave, he added.
Among those who refused to evacuate was the family of Rudy Canillo, who lives about 50 meters away from the edge of the debris flow.
Rudy said they knew that a tropical depression was coming but refused to leave because it was just Signal No.1.
“We heard over the radio that signal no. 1 was not just in ComVal but also in parts of the Visayas and other provinces of Mindanao. That’s why we said we can manage it,” he told MindaNews in an interview on top of a boulder Tuesday afternoon.
Tired of evacuating
His wife, Tesaluna, added they had become tired of evacuating since they also fled two days before super typhoon Yolanda made a landfall in Leyte on Friday.
Rudy said whenever a heavy downpour occurs they would go to the riverbanks to monitor the water level.
But Saigad, who also evacuated before Yolanda hit Leyte, said that if possible they no longer want to return to the evacuation center at the school.
“How I wish we can remain here, it’s so tiring going back and forth,” she said.
She said her parents are still missing and only her younger brother was recovered after a flashflood hit Andap when Pablo struck on December 4 last year.
She added that her mother was five months pregnant when the rampaging debris and water swept Andap.
Zoraida brought heavy rains in Andap since Monday morning, said Balliner.
At 3p.m. Monday, the makeshift bridge linking barangays Andap and Pagsilaan was destroyed when Mayo River overflowed.
He added the water changed its path and washed away the riprap, which was made of stones, along the riverbank.
The 10-meter bridge, which was made of coconut trunk and coconut lumber, was funded by Plan International and was only about two months old.
Balliner was at the site to discuss with the villagers a plan to put up another makeshift bridge.
“Many products of the people would be stranded. Tomorrow is open market day in the poblacion, but transporting the produce would really be a problem,” he stressed. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)