101,000 displaced in Butuan’s worst flood ever

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews / 22 Jan) – More residents here living in low-lying areas continue to leave their homes, peaking at 101,000 as of this morning, even though the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) has already noted the lowering of the water level of the Agusan River.

Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. pointed out that the city has never experienced a flood as widespread and as devastating in the past as the Agusan River swelled the past few days with the continuous rains brought by tropical depression Agaton and the low pressure area hovering around Mindanao and the Visayas before and after Agaton.

The CDRRMO reported that as of 8 a.m. today, water level of the Agusan River has dropped to 3.92 meters above sea level from the highest recorded level of 4.6 meters 5 a.m. on Tuesday. The river’s normal water level is 1.7 meters.

“The magnitude of this flooding is enormous but we are confident that we will be able to handle this situation. We have made all the necessary arrangements and coordinated in the relief operations. This is a clear sign that we should continue with the planned changes on the flood prone barangays,” said Amante.

Gracia Espere, CDRRMO officer in charge, said that 83 of the 86 barangays have been affected by the flooding.

She said some of those affected may still be unaccounted for since others prefer to stay with friends and relatives, or just camp out in open areas with makeshift tents instead of going to designated evacuation centers.

Espere said that initially, the City Engineering Office estimated infrastructure damage at P14.8 million. The agricultural sector, she added, reported an estimated damage of P17 million affecting 775 hectares of rice fields, 50 hectares corn, 30 hectares banana and 24 hectares vegetables.

Councilor Virgilio Nery Jr., a physician who chairs the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s committee on health and sanitation, assured that the city has addressed the health problems that might arise in the evacuation centers.

He said he joined city health workers, as well as those from the regional office of the Department of Health and volunteers from the Agusan del Norte Medical Society, going around the barangays bringing medicines.

Nery added that they have distributed Doxycycline to counter the case of leptospirosis.

As of press time, members of the Butuan City Search and Rescue Team, together with the Coast Guard, police, Army, Navy and civilian volunteers are conducting search and rescue operations for those trapped in the flooded areas.