The Rock-A A +A
By DP Limlingan
Monday, August 20, 2012
A DISASTER waiting to happen that turned out to be a blessing in disguise -- this is how I see the huge rock that blocked the path of a creek in Sitio Bani, Sapang Uwak, Porac.
When Sapang Uwak barangay captain Solis Palo observed that the volume of water at the creek in his barangay was significantly low despite continuous rains, he can’t help but wonder why.
His curiosity and disaster-readiness led to the discovery of a rock that helped form a mini-dam on the slopes of the mountain range housing Mt. Pinatubo.
Palo’s curiosity was aroused, prompting him to carefully observe the creek in his territory. After the discovery of the formed water reservoir, he informed Governor Lilia “Nanay” Pineda on the fact. The latter wasted no time in calling a meeting with local officials of the second district of the province to inform them of a looming disaster caused by the water build-up at the upstream portion of the Sapang Uwak creek.
As a pre-emptive measure, Governor Pineda has ordered the evacuation of women and children living along the Sapang Uwak Creek and the Porac-Gumain River, particularly in the towns of Porac, Guagua, Floridablanca and Lubao.
A team of policemen and Army personnel were sent up to the area to monitor the rise of the water upstream that may flow downstream and flood the said municipalities. They are also tasked to ring the bell should they see a sign of danger.
The law of physics and hydrology says that when the path of water is blocked and the volume of water increases, water pressure increases, too. Thus, if the said creek that was blocked by a rock cannot anymore hold water, it will swell and will either overflow or displace the rock that blocks it and release a great volume of water on its path downstream. The sudden gush of water then can cause flashfloods in the lowlands in a matter of minutes. If not for the keen observation of Kapitan Palo, several towns in the province might have been caught by surprise by flashfloods. Perhaps many would have drowned and properties inundated.
During a calamity or a disaster, there are born heroes. I may not know Kapitan Palo personally but I commend him for his simple yet keen observation that has saved lives and properties from an impending gush.
Governor Pineda’s act, meanwhile, is laudable for sharing information about the rock and alerting local officials under her command for a possible disaster. Pampanga has not fully recovered yet from the trauma and damages brought about by the recent continuous monsoon rains and profuse flooding.
The Provincial Government should continuously monitor the status of the rock, the volume of water trapped in the creek and the flow of water downstream. Geologists, hydrologists and other experts should be tapped to determine the vulnerability of the areas that might be submerged in flashfloods in case the rock in the creek dislodges.
Meanwhile, everyone in the district should be alert, awake and aware of anything that might happen this rainy season. We expect yet more rains since we are in the typhoon season. Readiness and preparedness are always the keys to mitigate the effects of disasters if not to avoid them.
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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 21, 2012.