Surigaonons greet New Year with flash floods 

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 January) — The New Year revelry here was cut short as rains brought about by a low pressure area that developed into tropical depression ‘Agaton’ by Monday afternoon caused flash floods in several low-lying villages.

Rains started to pour at 3 am. and continued without let up into the night. ‘Agaton’ is expected to make landfall over the Caraga region, where this city belongs, om Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

Engr. Frances Semorlan, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Atmospheric,  Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)  said the rainfall measured 45.2 mm as of 5 p.m. Monday.

Selmoraln recommended that Alert Level 2 be raised over Surigao City and the rest of Surigao del Norte due to the heavy rains.

As of 4 p.m., flash floods were reported in some low-lying villages in the city such as Barangay San Juan, Barangay Washington and portions of Barangay Luna.

Rains intensified at 7 in the evening. Annette Villaces, information officer of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) said the rains could cause landslides and severe flash flood in in high-risk areas.

At 5 p.m. Monday, the Philippine Coast Guard canceled all sea travel to Leyte, Cebu, Dinagat, Siargao and islands in Surigao City.

At 7:00 p.m., Agaton’s center was located at 145 km north northeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, according to PAGASA’s Severe Weather Bulletin No. 2.

The weather bureau has placed 16 Mindanao provinces under storm signal number 1: Surigao del Norte including Siargao Island, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Island, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, Compostela Valley, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Camiguin, and Bukidnon.

As of 7 p.m.  Red Warning Level — which means evacuate due to high potential of danger — was raised over all five provinces in Caraga — the two Agusans and two Surigaos and Dinagat Island.

A total of 91 passengers were stranded in Surigao City port, according to Port Police Supt. Al Caturla.  (Roel Catoto / MindaNews)