Heavy rains cause worst flooding in Oro since Sendong

PROLONGED heavy rains on Monday, January 16, due to the two weather disturbances caused the worst flooding in five years, submerging various parts of the city and stranding hundreds of students, office workers, and commuters.

Vergel Lago, weather monitoring chief of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), said a low pressure area and the tail end of the cold front caused long hours of heavy downpour which began at 2 p.m.

Lago said the CDRRMO hotline was swamped with calls from residents asking for help and rescue with some places having floodwaters six to seven feet deep.

As of 6 p.m., Monday, impassable areas included Limketkai area, C.M. Recto, Villarin street, JV Serina street, Gumamela extension, Gaabucayan Osmena, Camaman-an Elementary School, Pryce Plaza, Zone 7 Patag, Barangay Agusan, Zayas Muco, Balongis to Balulang, Osmena Cogon, Kauswagan highway, Villarin street, JV Serina street, Gumamela extension, Zayas in Carmen, Gaabucayan street, Osmena street, C.M. Recto Avenue, and baranggays Camaman-an and Balulang.

The flooded roads caused horrendous traffic jams in the city’s remaining passable roads, with vehicles bumper-to-bumper for up to three hours.

A landslide was also reported on the road leading to the Pryce Plaza Hotel in Mastersons Avenue, Carmen and in Paglaum Village, Camaman-an.

CDRRMO personnel were checking and verifying all reports coming in through their communication lines while rescue teams and equipment have been deployed to the affected areas.

"Hangyo sa katawhan nga mouna sa og coordinate sa ilang mga BDRRMO before sa CDRRMO nga gaatiman sa mga dinagko nga mga insidente,"Lago said.

The CDRRMO team remains on watch of the water levels of the Cagayan de Oro river, Bigaan river and Iponan river.

Lago said they are also monitoring the situation in the upland areas including Pagatpat, San Simon, Pigsag-an, this city and Talakag, Baungon, Libona and Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon.

City Information Officer Maricel Rivera said the CDRRMO coordinated with the Department of Education (DepEd) for the opening of schools as evacuation centers for residents fleeing their homes.

Rivera urged residents to be vigilant and coordinate with authorities.

In Camaman-an Elementary School, for instance, pupils who were trapped inside their classrooms had to be rescued by CDRRMD’s Urban Search and Rescue unit and other responders as floodwaters spread throughout the campus.

Students who were still in campus were also told to proceed to the upper floors of school buildings until the water receded.

The billing department of the City Government-run J.R. Borja General Hospital in Carmen and the Capitol University Medical Center emergency room in Gusa were flooded as well.

The basement parking of a mall at C.M. Recto Avenue and Corrales St. was filled with floodwater as vehicles were floating.

The area outside a mall near Bitan-ag Creek, an area usually inundated by floodwaters, was even flooded though that part of the C.M. Recto Avenue was already elevated.

The Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company Inc. (Cepalco) has also turned off electricity lines in highly flooded areas such as Carmen, Camaman-an, Macanhan, along C.M. Recto, among others.

Cepalco spokesperson Marilyn Chavez said power in the said areas will be restored immediately once the CDRRMO thumbs up and said it is safe.

"We are prioritizing the safety of highly flooded areas because live wires may be dangerous during floods. We are asking for the cooperation of the public to report any observations of loose wiring in their areas so that Cepalco can handle it immediately," Chavez said.

Per CDRRMD report, portions of barangays Camaman-an, Patag, Carmen, and some urban barangays, were also flooded.

The City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD), meanwhile, 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.

Responders from various government agencies such as the Phil. National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, among others, were deployed to rescue stranded persons.

A rain gauge installed near the Cagayan de Oro river measured 166.2 millimeters of rainfall, said Lago.

Also, all the barangays on the eastern side of the city had already been notified and told to prepare for any eventuality early Monday afternoon, he added.

As of this writing, no casualty was reported and authorities have yet to assess the damage caused by the flash flood.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has included Northern Mindanao as one of the regions affected by the LPA and tail-end of the cold front.

In Misamis Oriental, intermittent rains resulted to flooding in Gingoog City where the Gahub river spillway in San Miguel village and Ilihan creek teacher village overflowed.

As of 4:30 p.m., the approach of a bridge in Kalanawan, Sungay in Alubijid town was damaged and caused the area to be impassable except motorcycles.

Flash floods was also reported near the Tingalan, Nangcaon and Awang river in Opol.

Around 8:30 p.m., the CDRRMO has raised the alert level to orange, urging residents living near riverbanks, coastal areas, and creeks to undertake pre-emptive evacuation.

Rivera said the preemptive evacuation is in preparation for the high tide at 1 a.m.

Schools at all levels have suspended classes today with many announcing the resumption of classes on Wednesday, January 18.

Xavier University has announced Monday night that classes are suspended today to 'allow everyone to recover safely and speedily from Monday's heavy rains and flashfloods.
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