Oro declares code ‘red’ due to heavy downpour

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014


AS RIVERS in Cagayan de Oro City continue to swell on Monday, the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) declared the code red alert level, compelling residents to leave their houses in areas beside the riverbanks and shores.

The heavy rains were brought by Tropical Depression Agaton, which weakened into a low pressure area (LPA) as of Monday (January 20).

Agaton has caused water levels in various rivers to rise that might be compounded during high tide, causing massive flooding.

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CDRRMC chief Mario Verner Monsanto said that with the volume of rainwater plus the high tide, it is expected that a possible flooding would occur; and to ensure that no one is harmed, a forced evacuation has to be implemented in low-lying and flood-prone areas.

“If the flooding happens at night, it will be dangerous and rescuing will be difficult too, so to ensure no harm could be inflicted to people, the forced evacuation must enforced,” Monsanto said.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Northern Mindanao urged motorists headed to Caraga Region to wait for the latest advisory to avoid traffic congestion, as the Mambayaan Bridge in the municipality of Balingasag collapsed Monday noontime while the Gingoog-Butuan road has been impassable since Sunday due to landslides.

Classes suspended

Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano and Bukidnon Governor Jose Ma. Zubiri ordered suspension of classes in all levels in their respective provinces.

Cagayan de Oro suspended only the preschool and elementary levels in public and private schools, but some private schools declared suspension of classes in the high school level as rain poured heavily on Monday.

Flights have been continuously hampered at Laguindingan airport, said Engr. Jose Budiongan, airport manager, adding that only one flight that came through on Sunday and no plane had landed as of noontime on Monday.

The Philippine Coast Guard in the region did not cancel any trips from the Cagayan de Oro port.

Trapped

Seventeen families have been reported trapped in Barangay F.S. Catanico, a hinterland barangay in the city, as the river water rose Monday.

Reynaldo Neri braved the strong river current to inform the barangay officials of the families trapped there.

The families, he said, couldn’t cross the river and flee from their homes due to the strong current amid the threat on having nothing to eat in the next few days.

Neri said the water level in Cugman River rose enough to drown people, and the strong current hindered them to cross and get food supplies.

“I dared to cross the river to find food. But the problem is that I could not go back,” said Neri.

He added the trapped families have no ample food supply and they have been stranded for three days.

“They don’t have food in there,” said Neri, who left his 28-year-old paralyzed son behind.

Butch Eurese, a councilor of F.S. Catanico, confirmed to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro the plight of those 17 families trapped.

Eurese said there are around 10 children with ages below 15 years old.

“A sickly individual, and seven old persons,” said Eurese, referring to the members of the family who are trapped.

Eurese said those families almost had nothing to eat for the last three days since the heavy downpour started.

“Out of their desperation, they sent someone to cross the river to ask for food,” said Eurese.

Eurese said it is difficult to rescue the families.

“The city will surely find ways to send food packs to them,” said Eurese.

Allan Porcadilla, administrative and training officer of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), said it is hard to rescue the families since they live across the river and it would endanger the lives of the rescuers.

“The people are having difficulties to get across so we did not dare to rescue them and instead looked for a better alternative,” Porcadilla said.

However, he said the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) would take charge in sending the food packs to the trapped families.

Maribel Dumam-ag, a daycare teacher and the camp manager of the evacuation site in F.S. Catanico, said supplies could get through the area through sitio Palalan in Barangay Tablon.

He said the CSWD would send food packs that contain two kilograms of rice, some canned sardines and noodles.

Dumam-ag added the people in the evacuation centers need medicine.

“Some of the evacuees are having diarrhea and some of the children are having fever, colds and cough,” said Dumam-ag.

Eurese said there are 800 individuals at the F.S. Catanico evacuation center.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 21, 2014.

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