700 families affected in Lanao Norte flooding

MAIGO, Lanao del Norte (MindaNews / 5 Jan) – A total of 720 families were affected when a flood hit this municipality Monday evening, authorities said.

A resident of Barangay Balagatasa in the municipality of Maigo in Lanao del Norte salvage what he could from his damaged house the morning after a flood hit the area on Monday (3 January 2022). MindaNews photo by MARIVIC OMANDAM DAVIS

Vice Mayor Joseph Neri said the national highway was no longer passable by 9 p.m. due to the flood, exacerbated by the debris floating in the middle of the road. “We didn’t expect the flood to be this bad because we only had light rain here,” he said.

Municipal administrator Rafael Rizalda said they only heard of the flood when the Philippine National Plice, Armed Forces and the Bureau of Fire Protection started deploying rescue teams.

Initial reports from the Army’s 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion said 281 families were affected in Barangay Balagatasa with three houses totally damaged and 12 partially damaged, 270 families in Barangay Labuay with one pump boat damaged, and 170 families in Barangay Poblacion with six houses totally damaged and seven houses partially damaged.

Fortunately, there were no casualties nor missing persons, the Army said.

But Rizalda said they are still conducting assessment and providing assistance as some places are still difficult to access.

Marivic Vicoy, who lives by the river, said that water started to rise around 7 p.m. When she went outside to check, she would have been carried away by the current if she did not know how to swim.

“We didn’t expect the current to be this strong. Initially, the water was only up to the waist. Suddenly, it rose more than my height,” she added.

“Luckily, we were still able to put our belongings at a higher, safer place. But we had to leave the house as the water was rising so fast,” said Miralyn Dumagat, who resides not far from Vicoy. But she wasn’t able to carry anything as she hurriedly left.

Workers clean up debris along the highway in Maigo, Lanao del Norte the morning after a flood hit the area on Monday (3 January 2022). MindaNews photo by MARIVIC OMANDAM DAVIS

Rizalda, who is also former mayor, said the flooding happens almost every year. About this time last year, a similar incident took place.

“This serves as a wake-up call for us to take care of nature because if this continues, the next generation would suffer more damages due to worse disasters,” he said.

Rizalda said they will push for an ordinance where they would allocate P3 million every year for the protection of the communal forest in the municipality.

He said they will call the attention of the DENR to help in protecting the forests because there are a lot of illegal logging activities in remote areas with roads that are difficult to pass. (Marivic Omandam Davis / MindaNews)