Drowned teen found in river

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

SHAKY FOUNDATIONS.  A landslide leaves these houses in Camp 4, Talisay City at risk. Officials of the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau recommended moving the houses close to the sites of two landslides this week, after heavy rains.  (Alex Badayos)


FISHERMEN found yesterday the body of a 16-year-old boy who was reported missing in Barangay Pasil, Cebu City after he went swimming during a heavy rain last Thursday.

They retrieved Ronnel Abellaneda from the mouth of the Guadalupe River, while officials in three Metro Cebu cities coped with the problems created by Thursday’s floods and landslides.

In Talisay City, a bureau of the environment department recommended that at least nine households be moved away from Barangay Manipis, where a landslide had occurred.

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In Mandaue City, an official said the floods drove home the need to dredge Mahiga Creek, to keep it from overflowing into busy streets.

Heavy rains that lasted for three hours caused the floods last Thursday that left commuters stranded as they were about to head home from work.

Before leaving for his trip to Manila yesterday, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama asked Councilor Dave Tumulak to continue monitoring all the barangays and coordinate with other City offices in case of heavy rain.

‘New normal’

What happened last Thursday was “the new normal,” said Tumulak, who heads the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CCDRRMC).

He received the report about the recovered body around 6:20 a.m. yesterday.

A brother identified Abellaneda, who was from Barangay Sawang Calero. The teenager and three of his friends went swimming last Thursday after classes in the Don Carlos A. Gothong Memorial National High were dismissed earlier than usual because of the heavy rain.

“Swimming in the area seems normal to them, that is why they did not mind the heavy rain,” Tumulak said.

The search for Abellaneda lasted until midnight, when the team from the CDRRMC and Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP) had to suspend it because the heavy rain resumed and reduced their visibility to near-zero.

With what happened to Abellaneda, Tumulak reminded officials of coastal barangays to watch out for swimmers and keep them from going into the water during heavy rains.

Landslides

The downpour also caused landslides in Barangay Busay, where stones and soil covered a portion of the road yesterday morning. Barangay workers immediately cleared it.

In Talisay City, a second landslide occurred yesterday afternoon in the same sitio in Barangay Manipis where a landslide happened last Thursday.

It was smaller.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central Visayas recommended the immediate evacuation of residents living near the danger zones.

Vince Monterde, Talisay City public information officer, said the smaller landslide occurred in Sitio Camp 6 in Barangay Manipis.

But Monterde added that personnel from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and their subcontractor, QM Builders, immediately went to the area and started clearing operations.

Monterde said he expected the road would be passable before morning today, unless another heavy rain poured.

Still at risk

Loreto Alburo, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 director, sent chief geologist Al Emil Berador and Mine Safety and Health Section chief Romeo Patalinghug to Barangay Manipis to inspect the landslide site.

Based on Berador and Patalinghug’s findings, the area remained unstable, and there was a risk that boulders and loose earth could still topple.

Alburo, in response, issued a landslide threat advisory with five recommendations, which the office of Talisay City Mayor Johnny De los Reyes received last Thursday.

One of the recommendations made by MGB 7 was the evacuation of nine affected households located near the danger zone.

“We urge the Talisay City Government with the barangay captain to carry out the immediate relocation and evacuation of the nine households as they are in a very high-risk place,” Alburo added.

Another recommendation was for the City Government to establish slope stabilization measures, put up warning signs to caution motorists on the hazards of crossing the area and cordon off the area.

The MGB 7 has also recommended the evacuation of four households near “tension cracks” in Barangay Camp 4.

Deepen creek

In Mandaue City, last Thursday’s floods highlighted the need to dredge the Mahiga Creek, an official said.

Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Officer Felix Suico said most rainwater runoff goes to the creek, but the volume of rainwater last Thursday afternoon was beyond its capacity.

“The creek serves as outfall for rainwater but it is heavily silted now,” Suico told Sun.Star Cebu.

The creek overflowed around 6 p.m., inundating Barangay Subangdaku in Mandaue and Barangay Mabolo in Cebu City.

Suico said no forced evacuation was carried out, but they advised families living near the creek to move to safer ground.

His office did not receive any reports about untoward incidents.

Suico said the dredging of the creek is included in the City’s DRRM Plan, but it is mainly the task of the DPWH.

Heavy rains that lasted for three hours caused the floods last Thursday. A portion of the A.S. Fortuna was also flooded, leaving commuters and motorists stranded on the road.

With better drainage facilities, the water subsided in less than an hour, Suico said.

‘Perennial’

The City has spent almost P151 million to improve roads and drainage facilities. In his State of the City Address last Wednesday, Cortes said the City has installed 2.3 kilometers of drainage lines. By next month, he said, the City will have installed four kilometers of drainage lines.

But the floods in the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue are “a perennial problem.”

“There should be an engineering intervention that should be done on our drainage system,” said Engr. Ver Neil Balaba, operations officer of the Office of Civil Defense in Central Visayas.

Residents living in areas at risk of landslide and flooding must evacuate immediately after receiving a bad weather advisory, he said.

“Dili na ta maghuwat nga mograbe pa unya naa nay mahitabo sa atoa (We shouldn’t wait for things to get worse before evacuating),” Balaba said, adding that parents should make sure all their children are safely indoors during these situations.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 30, 2014.

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