Caraga on red alert due to heavy rains

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SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Jan) – The Caraga Region has been placed under red alert status because of the incessant heavy rains, flooding several communities, according to the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

RDRRMC Chairperson Rosauro Arnel Gonzales Jr., who is regional director of the Office of Civil Defense, said the rains are due to the tailend of a cold front affecting the region.

OCD-Caraga said in a message shortly before noon today that the areas affected by the floods are Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte. In Surigao City, rains have continued to pour and authorities declared alert level 2 since Wednesday.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), in its flood advisory released at 1 p.m. Thursday, declared “level 3” or “red alert” status over Bukidnon, Camiguin, Dinagat Island, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley. “Serious flooding is expected in low-lying areas and LANDSLIDES in mountainous areas,” it added.

Under Orange warning level are Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, Davao City, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Maguindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu and Cotabato City. PAGASA said “flooding is threatening in low lying areas and near river channels and landslides over mountainous areas” in provinces under this category.

In Surigao City, rains have continued to pour since Wednesday.

Residents situated in areas prone to flood and landslides have been evacuated.

The city and Surigao del Norte province have declared no classes for preschool and elementary pupils for the second day.

Floods have been reportedly recurring in Villa Corito, San Juan and Washington villages, including in some city streets.

In Mainit town in Surigao del Norte, several residents living around Lake Mainit have been displaced due to the rising water level.

Mainit resident JM Libarnes told MindaNews that water in the lake has risen to road level. “Low-lying villages of the town have been flooded,” he said.

The Department of Science and Technology’s ClimateX website, which gathers data on rainfall all over the country, shows that the Caraga Region is the area most affected by the rains as of Thursday afternoon.

Dinagat Island, in particular, has rainfall readings way higher than most areas. Highest rainfall recorded in the last 24 hours was in the municipality of Libjo at 339 mm, followed by Cagdianao at 330 mm.

In its advisory this morning the Dinagat Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported moderate to heavy rains for the past 12 hours.

Rosario Roxas, chief of the PDRRMCO in Dinagat, advised all DRRMCs in the municipal and barangay levels “to take precautionary measures, particularly for those situated in landslide and flood prone areas.” He added that they may also order suspension of classes and preemptive evacuation “depending on the vulnerability of their constituents.”

“Grabe ang ulan diri sa (The rain is worst here in) Dinagat Island. We are still monitoring possible landslides,” said Angela Elago, a staff of Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao.

In Butuan City, 610 individuals have been evacuated from the villages of Golden Ribbon and Agao and now sheltering at the Agusan del Norte National High School as of 10 a.m.

At 11 a.m., water level at the Agusan River has been recorded at 2.52 meters above normal.

Butuan City Mayor Ronnie Vicente Lagnada issued this morning a notice suspending classes from preschool to high school.

The town of Loreto in Agusan del Sur has been placed under a state of calamity, according to municipal councilor Ricky Angwas.

He said seven houses were swept away by floods. Rescue operations have been ongoing in affected areas.

In Rosario town in Agusan del Sur, 1,317 individuals have been affected by the floods in Barangays Sta. Cruz, Cabawan, Tagbayagan, Libuac and Cabantao as of 11 a.m., according to Bryan Galaraga, a radio reporter.

The towns of Veruela and La Paz are also reportedly among the municipalities of Agusan del Sur affected by the floods.

In Siargao Island, people experienced heavy rains and strong winds last night. “I thought there was a tornado because the rain and the wind were so strong,” said Marlon Coro, a town councilor in Dapa town.

Reports said that in Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte, 300 families have already evacuated. Meanwhile, boat trips between Butuan City and Magallanes town also in Agusan del Norte have been cancelled due to strong currents. (Roel Catoto / MindaNews)

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