Cagayan de Oro’s SOS: more big trucks, more volunteers please

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/ 16 Jan) —  “Rescue operations  going on but we need more big trucks and volunteers.”

This sums up the SOS message posted on the Facebook page of the Cagayan de Oro City government at around 8 p.m. Monday, after continuous heavy rains since early afternoon left thousands of residents stranded in schools and offices due to waist-deep or neck-deep floods.

As of 6:18 p.m. on Monday, January 17, residents of Cagayan de Oro City stranded along CM Recto Ave. are taking initiatives to get through the floodwaters. Photo courtesy of NEFOI LUCZON

A message posted by the City Information Office on the city government’s Facebook page said: “Rescue operations now ongoing. We have deployed all our vehicles assisted by the PNP (Philippine National Police), Army, Coast Guard, Red Cross. But CDRRMC (City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) need(s) more big trucks. They would appreciate volunteers. If you have big trucks that we can use, please send them at the CDRRMC Command Center at City Hall for deployment.”

Amid the heavy rains,  ligan City was plunged into darkness at 8:45 p.m. An hour later, the city was still in the dark.

Several parts of the city were also flooded.

The Iligan Light and Power, Inc. (ILPI) posted a notice that they are “on skeletal staff tonight unable to take in all the calls now as many of our ILPI staff have also been affected by the floods.”

ILPI also instructed residents to keep safe. “Para sa inyong safety, palonga inyong ga plangka para makaiwas sa disgrasya.” (For your safety, turn off your main electrical switch). We will update this post as soon as we get new information.

Low Pressure Area

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in its 5 p.m. advisory said  the low pressure area was estimated to be in the vicinity of Kabasalan in Zamboanga Sibugay as of 4 p.m.

The advisory said cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms “may trigger flashfloods and landslides” over Visayas and the regions of Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula and the province of Palawan.

Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms, the advisory added,  is expected over the rest of Mindanao, Bicol region and the rest of Mimaropa region.

Teams were deployed  to rescue more than 300 students who were trapped inside the buildings of the state-owned Mindanao University of Science and Technoloy (MUST) in Barangay Lapasan.

Inside the Mindanao University for Science and Technology in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday, January 17, 2017, the worst flooding inside the campus since 2012. About 300 to 500 students, faculty and staff were stranded. Photo courtesy of NEFOI LUCZON

Nefoi Luzon, an MUST professor, said this would be the second attempt to get to the students who are wet and hungry after five hours of heavy rain.

“The first attempt failed because the flood waters were waist deep. It was simply too much for the light pickups of the rescuers,” Luzon told Mindanews.

Luzon said many of the students have sought refuge on the upper portions of university’s buildings.

Luzon, in an update posted on his Facebook wall at 10:40 p.m. thanked students who “heeded our call for food solicitation to hand over food for stranded students.”

He said some volunteer students, faculty and staff joined him as they navigated through neck-level floodwaters.

“The food we collected was not enough, as there are still too many of them,” he said.

The CDRRM Office declared an “orange alert” paving the way for preemptive evacuation of all residents living beside creeks and rivers.

City Information Officer Maricel Rivera Casino said rubber boats will be  deployed to rescue the MUST students

Appeals for reescue

Residents quickly responded to the City Government’s Facebook announcement seeking volunteers and “more big trucks.”

Prinskurlyn Fabs wrote appealing to authorities to rescue students of Merry Child School who were stranded in a multicab vehicle.

Inside  the Mindanao University for Science and Technology in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday, January 17, 2017, the worst flooding inside the campus since 2012. About 300 to 500 students, faculty and staff were stranded. Photo courtesy of NEFOI LUCZON

Marissa Amora Caballero also sought assistance for students of Camanman Elementary School who were stranded because of the floodwaters.

Mitch Lou asked if there are rescuers “from Puerto to downtown.”

Len Len Ramos Sityo reported “daghan” (many) employees and students of MUST.

Glenfrey Omanos Labis also asked for rescue of MUST students.

Maiko Francois Mediante Lim  reported several residents stranded in the Limketkai area.

In Bukidnon,  preemptive evacuation of 15 families in Maluko was resorted to, according to Ma. Leah Barquez, coordinator at the Provincial Disaaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

Residents in Valencia City are on alert status as the water level in Pulangui River has been raised to Level 4.8, Grace Bautista, operator of Valencia’s CDRRMO hotline, said. Level 5 is preemptive evacuation, she said. (Froilan O. Gallardo, Bobby Timonera, Walter Balane, Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)