Thousands evacuate, 2 dead in Bayawan flooding-A A +A
Sunday, October 6, 2013
DUMAGUETE CITY -- More than 2,000 residents were evacuated after the largest rivers in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental and nearby areas overflowed Sunday, inundating several villages and killing at least two people, officials said.
The rivers in Bayawan City, Sta. Catalina and Basay overflowed due to the more than 12 hours of continuous rains that also triggered landslides in several areas, said Negros Oriental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) action officer Adrian Sedillo.
He said residents from at least 13 villages in Bayawan are now staying at the city gymnasium, the Internal Business Center, St. Augustine Academy campus, Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Catholic Church, and the Negros Oriental State University campus at the boundary of Villareal in Bayawan City and Caranoche in Sta. Catalina town.
Updates from the Philippine Information Agency as of 4 p.m. Sunday revealed that two persons were reported dead as they were carried away by flashfloods along Ilog River in Mabinay town.
Their identities, however, still have to be verified, as rescue operations for residents trapped in their homes were ongoing Sunday evening.
As of 6 p.m., a rescue team from Dumaguete City has been looking for Richard Tejedor, who went missing after he was also carried away by strong currents at Banica River.
A certain Police Officer 1 Rodilyn Gonzaga of Bayawan City police was also reported missing after he was separated from a lifeline around 2:30 p.m. while attempting to rescue some trapped residents in Sitio Punong, Barangay Villareal in Bayawan City, said Senior Inspector Nenette Vibares, city police chief.
Gonzaga was hit by strong current from flood waters that had spilled over from the Banga River, which overflowed, changed course and sealed off access to the Bayawan City proper, reports said.
The missing police officer was among the 72 members of the Special Counter Operations Unit Training Class 40-2013 that were deployed Sunday to help in the rescue operations. All 72 are swimmers, with eight of them females and nurses at the same time, said Senior Inspector Dexter Calacar, training manager of the Philippine National Police’s Regional Special Training Unit-7 in Central Visayas.
Bayawan City residents said the incident Sunday was the largest flooding incident in many decades. An estimated 80 percent of the city proper was submerged in flood waters that rose as high as the knee up to the waist.
In some other areas, residents were reported to have gone up to the second floor of their homes, or climbed up the roofs of their houses or trees.
According to the Dumaguete City Social Welfare and Development Office, some 70 families at Purok Lunoy, Barangay Junob living along the river bank of Banica were evacuated to higher grounds.
As of Sunday evening, most parts of Barangay Candauay, Dumaguete City were also submerged in knee-deep floods and motorists were advised to take a detour to evade the floods with strong current, said the Philippine Information Agency.
Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo called on all Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council members to be on alert status.
Degamo said he had requested for two helicopters through the Philippine Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade headquartered at Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.
Bayawan City parish priest Fr. Frank Bomediano, for his part, said that except for one Mass at 6 a.m. Sunday, all other Masses were cancelled for the day as only a handful of parishioners came to church due to the flooding.
The priest said they are helping out by cooking rice, provided by the local social welfare office, to be delivered to the evacuation centers.
The PDRRMC has initially sent 45 sacks of rice to Bayawan while the City Government has enough food stuffs for distribution to the evacuees, said Sedillo.
He said Governor Degamo is looking at immediate relief and rehabilitation efforts by Monday, hopefully once the rains have stopped and Bayawan City will become more accessible. (PNA/PIA/Sunnex)