PERSISTENT heavy rains on Monday, January 16, triggered flooding and landslides in different parts of Visayas and Mindanao, prompting authorities to deploy rescue teams and resources as residents began to flee to the nearest evacuation centers.
In Cebu, two persons were reported dead in flood-related drowning incidents in Naga City. The fatalities were identified as Aileen Rose Paquit, 5, who drowned when flood damaged her family's house; and Arvin Entroliso, 18, who went fishing in a muddy swamp.
Still in Naga, an elementary pupil was also reportedly carried away by flash flood in Barangay Lutac. Search and rescue operations are ongoing, said the Cebu Provincial Government on Facebook.
Heavy flooding was also reported in Barangay Tinaan, Naga City; and Barangays Esperanza, Bojo, and Tampaan in Aloguinsan, Cebu.
In Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, the Banica and Okoy rivers swelled and rose to threatening levels, sending residents along the banks to scramble to safety while others insisted on just staying put while watching the waters rise.
At the Okoy River, notorious for being a “killer” river because of its history of claiming lives during floods, breakwaters or dikes were damaged, trees toppled and scouring reported in some areas.
Some residents that were caught in the middle of the overflowing Okoy River were rescued.
The Ticala spillway leading to Barangay Ticala in Valencia town, also in Negros Oriental, overflowed, cutting off access to that area and nearby barangays.
In Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao, several roads were impassable.
Flash floods were also reported near the Tingalan, Nangcaon and Awang river in Opol, Misamis Oriental.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) also issued a flood warning over Eastern Visayas. In its flood advisory, Pagasa identified several rivers in five provinces that would likely be affected by heavy downpour.
These water courses are Sangputan, Palo, Solano, Daguitan, Marabong, Cadacan, Bongquirogon, Salug, Pagbanagaran, Pagsangahan, and Binahaan in Leyte; and Catarman, Bugko, Pambujan, Catubig, Palapag, Mano, and Gamay in Northern Samar.
Other affected rivers are Oras, Dolores, Ulot, Taft, Borongan, Suribao, Llorento, Balangiga, and Sulat in Eastern Samar; Basey, Silaga, Calbiga and Jibatan in Samar; and Bisay, Himbangan, and Pandan in Southern Leyte.
“There’s a big chance of flooding in low-lying areas because our soil is saturated due to heavy rains over the past days,” said Mario Peñaranda, chief of Pagasa Tacloban station.
Five houses in Sitio Tawagan 1, Barangay Sirao, Cebu City, were damaged by a landslide triggered by heavy rains.
Nagiel Bañacia, head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, said in a Facebook post that landslides have been reported in the following upland areas: Sitio Kan-irag, Barangay Sirao; Sitio Lupa, Barangay Sapangdaku; Sitio Tabok Metropolis Sub, Barangay Pit-os; Sitio Grahe, Barangay Busay; back of Barangay Binaliw Barangay Hall; and lower portion of Barangay Agsungot.
A landslide incident was also reported in Barangay Olango in Aloguinsan, Cebu.
In Cagayan de Oro, a landslide was monitored just below the Pryce Plaza hotel in Masterson Avenue Carmen, as well as in Paglaum, Camaman-an.
In Cebu, 15 families living near the Butuanon River in Barangay Pit-os, Cebu City, evacuated to the barangay's gymnasium after a house was destroyed and parts of it were swept away by flash flood.
Bañacia said as of 8:20 p.m., 84 families evacuated to Sirao Elementary School due to the massive landslide.
About 500 families are affected by flooding in the nine barangays of Mandaue, said City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Felix Suico.
In Talisay City, Mayor Eduardo Gullas supervised the evacuation of families from Sitio Bahala, Barangay Dumlog and Sitio Isla Verde in Barangay San Isidro.
In Dumaguete City, some residents in Sibulan, are now seeking temporary shelter at an evacuation center after the swelling of the Okoy River, which flows down from the mountains through Sibulan toward the sea, according to Sibulan Mayor Pepe Abiera.
In Cagayan de Oro City, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office coordinated with the Department of Education for the opening of schools as evacuation centers for residents fleeing their homes.
The City Social Welfare and Development reported that as of Monday evening, 68 families or 416 individuals in Macasandig sought temporary shelter at the village covered court.
Other residents in other affected barangays spent the night in their respective evacuation areas.
No casualty was reported.
Suspension of classes
As the day progressed, several cities and provinces have suspended classes at the pre-school, elementary and high school levels.
Cebu Province suspended classes in both elementary and high school levels in all public and private schools due to anticipated heavy rainfall on Tuesday, January 17.
Cebu City, meanwhile, has not yet declared any suspension for Tuesday's classes.
The City Government of Tacloban also suspended classes in public and private elementary and secondary schools in the regional capital on Monday.
In Cagayan de Oro City, schools at all levels have suspended classes Tuesday, with many announcing the resumption of classes on Wednesday, January 18.
As of 10 p.m. Monday, the Pagasa raised a red heavy rainfall warning over Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula, which means serious low lying areas are threatened with serious flooding.
Pagasa also hoisted yellow heavy rainfall warning over Cebu, Bohol, and Negros Oriental, which means flooding is possible in low lying areas and landslides in mountainous areas.
The tail-end of a cold front and a low pressure area have triggered the massive rainfall.
The public has been advised to continue monitoring the weather condition. (With reports from PNA/SunStar Cebu/ SunStar Cagayan de Oro/SunStar Philippines)