Iligan mayor orders forced evacuation in bid for ‘zero casualty’

Personnel of the Iligan City Fire Station (ICFS) prepare a line to help residents cross a river in Barangay Abuno on Thursday (16 December 2021) as Typhoon “Odette” triggered heavy rains in many parts of Mindanao and the Visayas. Photo from the ICFS Facebook page

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 16 December) – Mayor Celso G. Regencia has ordered on Thursday the forced evacuation of residents living in low lying areas near Iligan’s major rivers and bring them to higher ground “to ensure zero casualty in the city.”

Iliganons have been closely watching the rising water levels of Iligan River and Mandulog River as Typhoon “Odette” traverses the northeastern part of Mindanao and Central Visayas. Exactly 10 years ago, hundreds of Iliganons perished when the Mandulog River overflowed and caused a flashflood late at night when Typhoon “Sendong” struck.

In his advisory as chair of the Iigan City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Regencia noted that Iligan, like its neighboring areas, is now under Signal No. 2 as Typhoon “Odette” made landfall in Siargao Island early afternoon Thursday.

“[I] call on the emergency/forced evacuation effective today to all residents living in low-lying areas along the Iligan and Mandulog River basins and bring them to higher safer grounds/evacuation centers,” Regencia said in his memorandum posted at the city government’s Facebook page at 4 p.m.

The mayor earlier issued Executive Order No. 315 which suspended work and classes in both public and private institutions.

But he instructed personnel involved in public safety services, emergency response, medical services, and disaster response to continue with their work, and ordered motorpool personnel to be on standby.

Regencia likewise ordered public schools “to immediately prepare their school buildings, facilities and other structures to serve as additional evacuation centers.”

He said the City Social Welfare and Development Office has prepared assistance to areas that have already initiated forced evacuation, like the villages of San Roque and Hinaplanon.

He earlier visited various barangays, especially the flood-prone areas, to oversee preparations.

Veronico “Nick” Echavez, barangay chairman of Hinaplanon, said they have evacuated residents of Sitio Bayug Island, which is near the mouth of the Mandulog River, to Tambo Central School while those in Sitio Kabugason and Purok 1 sought shelter at the third floor of Hinaplanon National High School.

Echavez recalled that Hinaplanon was the hardest hit at the height of “Sendong” wherein more than 200 residents perished and more than 300 were declared missing, mostly from Bayug.

In the hinterland village of Rogongon, about 30 kilometers from the city center, residents of Sitios Santa Cruz 1, Santa Cruz 2, Cabangahan, Sumagaysay and Purok Katipunan have evacuated because nearby rivers have swelled, according to barangay Councilor Cybee Capangpangan Serino. He added that they are also fearing landslides since some portions of the hillside along the Iligan-Bukidnon Road have already softened due to the heavy rainfall.

The Iligan Light and Power, Inc. (ILPI) announced earlier in the day that it may shut down electricity should heavy rains persist and cause floods and landslides. ILPI said this will be for everyone’s safety to avoid people getting electrocuted, to avoid fire and other incidents.

In Lanao del Norte, Gov. Imelda “Angging” Quibranza-Dimaporo urged residents to be more vigilant as Typhoon “Odette” intensifies.

She said the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) is equipped with heavy equipment and tools with trained personnel ready to augment the local government units who need assistance.

She said the Provincial Social Development Office has prepared mats, blankets, mosquito nets and food packs should there is a need for forced evacuation.

Abeliza Manzano, PDRRMO chief said only Barangay Tacub in Kauswagan town had ordered a forced evacuation.

Manzano said the towns of Linamon, Kauswagan, Bacolod, Maigo, Tubod, Baroy, Lala, Kapatagan, Matungao, Magsaysay, Tangcal ,Poona Piagapo, Salvador, Tagoloan and Nunungan had ordered a suspension of work and classes from Thursday until Friday. (Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)