Over 1,000 flee homes in ComVal floods

Photos by Toto Lozano

COMPOSTELA VALLEY (MindaNews / 12 Jan) – Over 1,000 people in low-lying barangays in Compostela Valley, particularly those living near the Manat River, have been evacuated due to flood waters that rose after five days of continuous rains.

Data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said there were a total of 1,190 persons moved to evacuation centers in Mt. Diwata Elementary School in Monkayo, Palm Oil Area tent in Laak, the Magsaysay Elementary School and Barangay Hall in Nabunturan, the New Visayas Elementary School in Montevista, and the Maparat Elementary School in Compostela.

Laak had the most number of evacuees as Saturday, at 550 individuals.

According to Montevista Mayor Topoy Jayectin, preemptive evacuations had already been in place as early as Saturday.

In Montevista, 80 percent of barangay Banagbanag have reportedly been submerged with flood waters, with rescue operations being conducted by the Provincial Disaster Council.

Jayectin said that flood-prone areas, especially those near Barangay Poblacion, Montevista, had been warned beforehand. “But we weren’t expecting this kind of magnitude,” he said.

Toto Aldaya, Compostela provincial community relations officer, said in an interview that the bridge along the Montevista, New Bataan national highway leading to Compostela has been rendered impassable, with waters flowing over the bridge itself.

“This water comes from Barangay Manat in Nabunturan, and the water is headed to Agusan River,” he said.

Aldaya said it has been raining in the area for five days.

“This flood is worse than what we experienced during typhoon Pablo, when we only faced rains and winds,” he said.

Aldaya added that the municipal mayor has ordered the road closed until cleared of danger.

Montevista Vice Mayor Roel Abucejo said in an interview that two individuals from Barangay Dauman in Montevista were reportedly electrocuted.

With the bridge impassable, Jayectin reportedly ordered the operator of a grader of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) they met along the way to proceed to the flood site to rescue the patients at Dauman. It was reportedly the only available equipment capable of braving through the waters.

Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (DANECO) personnel also had to hitch a ride on the grader to cut electrical lines in the area to prevent more electrocutions.

The grader made one trip for each of the two patients.

Abucejo estimated there were 500 total evacuees in New Visayas, Linoan and Tapia.

There have been no reported casualties so far, he said. “We’re trying to keep it that way.”

He said that the mayor had already dispatched the barangay municipal disaster response team, upon orders of the provincial governor’s office.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, he said, were also already preparing the food packs for the evacuees.

Dandie Llaban, who works for the office of the municipal mayor, said in an interview that the municipality has so far evacuated around 43 families to the New Visayas evacuation site, with the families numbering more than 220 individuals.

These families come from puroks 5, 6, and 7, he said.

In Barangay Bankerohan Norte, barangay chief Alicia Ongcal said she was worried about the safety of her constituents.

The Bankerohan barangay hall and day care center was supposedly their evacuation area.

The barangay hall had already been waist-deep in floodwaters during the interview, with the villagers moving to the GKK Sr. San Isidro Chapel across the highway.

Ongcal said she was worried the flood waters would cross the street and hit the chapel.

Flood waters were also trickling from the hillsides opposite the rising waters from the river.

Ongcal said all of Bankerohan’s 417 residents from 108 families were accounted for.

The women were seen taking care of the children in the evacuation site, with the men reportedly guarding their homes as less rainfall hit the area.

“We only have food for one meal today,” she said, referring to donations from the Philippine National Red Cross’s Nabunturan chapter.

Red Cross personnel said they will conduct feeding in the area for as long as necessary.

Elsewhere in ComVal, landslides have been reported in Mt. Diwata, Monkayo; Barangays San Isidro and Bukal, Nabunturan; and Barangay Binuangan, Maco Comval, according to the PDRRMC.

Compostela’s Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a text message that there have been no reported incidents in mining areas in ComVal.

Two Compostela Valley Provincial Public Safety Company search and rescue teams have also been deployed in the area for rescue operations, the council said.

Mayor Jayectin added that the provincial government has added rescue and security personnel to their municipality to help out with coordinating rescue and evacuation efforts.

The low pressure area that began early this week is continuously being monitored, according to the council.

So far, the council has reported three houses damaged and one injured at Mount Diwata in Monkayo, Compostela Valley.

Meanwhile, in Davao del Norte, the province’s Disaster Risk Reduction Management Division (PRRMD) reported in a text message that more than 2,300 individuals have been evacuated in the area.

The agency reported the number of families evacuated increased by 49 percent since 4 p.m. Saturday.

The total number of people who evacuated now number 2,330.

The increase was due to the flood waters affecting barangays San Miguel, Cuambogan, and Canocotan in Tagum.

The Pagsabangan highway was no longer passable to light vehicles.

The latest NDRRMC situation report noted that a low pressure area was estimated at 460 km east of General Santos City, which brought cloudy skies with moderate to heavy rains and thunderstorms over Mindanao as of January 12.

These were seen to trigger flashfloods and landslides.

Strong to gale force northeasterly surface wind flows were also expected to affect the Misamis provinces, Zamboanga del Norte and Davao Oriental. (MindaNews)