Families trapped in Maguindanao, North Cot flood rescued

DATU MONTAWAL, Maguindanao (MindaNews/21 January) —  Army rescue teams and local government disaster response workers rescued several families trapped by floodwaters in two separate incidents in Maguindanao and North Cotabato Friday and Saturday.

Pagalungan Elementary School on Friday afternoon, 20 January 2017. MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

The ARMM Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team(ARMM-HEART) and 6th Army Division rescue team rescued at 3 a.m. Saturday 13 families in Sitio Baytunina, Barangay Butig, Datu Montawal town in Maguindanao.

ARMM-HEART focal person Jo Henry said most of those rescued were minors and mothers.

On Friday afternoon, North Cotabato disaster response workers and soldiers brought to safer grounds residents trapped in their houses in  Sitio Punol, Barangay Malabuaya in Kabacan town.

Badria Sulayman, a resident of Sitio Punol, said it was the first time she experienced a sudden rise of floodwaters.

She said the water reached “as high as our necks.” Fortunately, she said, the soldiers nad men in orange unifrom arrived to save them.

“We worked hand in hand with our military counterparts and shared our resources since mabilis ang pag-akyat ng tubig, and were lucky to be successful in our mission,” said Jovito Sacafuri of North Cotabato Emergency Response Team.

Teams of Army rescuers using ambulance trucks and police cars were busy roaming the national highway, using “rikorida” (mobile broadcast usually through megaphone), informing the public not to be hesitant to call their assistance as they are “on call” anytime.

Evacuating to higher ground along the national highway in Pagalungan, Maguindanao Friday afternoon, 20 January 2017.

Displaced families in this flood-prone area, numbering about 6,000 are seeking refuge on the roadside with their valuables.

Residents beside the Malitubog and Maridagao rivers were also alerted for possible evacuation as floodwaters continue to rise.

The affected residents blame the alleged abrupt release of water from a dam in Pulangi claiming that residents downstream were not informed.

In Pikit North, Cotabato, eight barangays were also inundated by floodwaters.

Tahira Kalantungan, head of the Municial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office,  said they initiated forced evacuation for 52 families as the river started to overflow.

Rescue equipment and rescuers were on standby for immediate response.

No casualty has been reported. A number of male residents refused to leave their homes despite the flood, s saying they are securing their properties. Others said they are used to the floods and know when to evacuate.  (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)