15,000 affected in Zambo floods; flights, boat trips cancelled

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 11 January) – A total of 15,399 individuals from 5,546 families in 30 barangays have been affected by the floods here Wednesday, according to the Zamboanga City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (ZCDRRMO).

The Tetuan Highway in Zamboanga City gets flooded Wednesday afternoon (11 January 2023) because of heavy rains. MindaNews photo by FRENCIE L. CARREON

Transportation operations were crippled as flights were cancelled and bus trips were initially stopped, but later resumed at a slow pace as officials believed a damaged bridge might collapse. All boats and ferries plying the Zamboanga-Basilan route were also cancelled.

Earlier today, Mayor John Dalipe declared suspension of classes in all public and private schools in all levels, as well as work in the city government, through his Executive Order No. 2023-007.

Dr. Elmeir Jade Apolinario, ZCDRRMO officer, said in a phone interview that as of 8 p.m. Wednesday, there have been two reported fatalities – a 14-year-old boy from Barangay Sangali who drowned and another still unidentified person from Barangay Arena Blanco.

He said that the local government fielded 30 response groups to address the flooding.

Apolinario said three bridges were affected: Limpapa, which foundation or base was damaged and thus no longer passable; Labuan, whose floor deck was damaged; and Manicahan, which was declared non-passable due to a damaged base with visible cracks on its slope protection.

A riprap at Purok 5 of Barangay Sinunuc was also reported damaged, and the road thus became unpassable.

Zamboanga City Mayor John Dalipe (in white shirt and black cap) spearheads feeding of arroz caldo to evacuees at the Tumaga Elementary School on Wednesday (11 January 2023) as floods affected many parts of the city. A total of 1,490 families from Barangay Tumaga were reported affected by the floods. Screengrab from Mayor John Dalipe’s FaceBook page

Apolinario said all these were already reported to the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The floods in several barangays that damaged bridges slowed down the flow of transportation, not only for public utility jeepneys plying within the city, but also for buses going to other areas.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center (NDRRMC) has circulated since 11:35 a.m. warnings on the heavy flooding and possible landslides through a text message. The rainfall warning came again at 5:50 p.m.

Apolinario said the ZCDRRMO sent 30 personnel to Barangay Tumaga alone and placed two portalets as the Tumaga River rose. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), along with Special Rangers forces, has assigned personnel at Barangay Tumaga.

Rafael Derrick Evangelista, head of the Zamboanga City Integrated Bus Terminal, told media that because of the damage at Manicahan Bridge, passengers were advised to take a vehicle to Manicahan, alight, cross the bridge, then take another vehicle to their destination. But as of 4 p.m., vehicles were already allowed to pass one by one, he added.

Potable water was delivered by the ZCDRRMO and the Red Cross using water tankers at San Jose Cawa-cawa and Tumaga Elementary School. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)