HEAVY rains on Monday triggered flooding in Dumaguete City and other parts of Negros Oriental, prompting authorities to deploy rescue teams and resources as residents also kept watch over rising waters in rivers and even in low-lying areas.
As the day progressed and the situation got worse, Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo issued a directive anchored on Section 2 of Executive Order 66 that suspended classes at the pre-school, elementary and high school level across the province.
Adrian Sedillo, executive officer of the Negros Oriental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), also announced that work in government offices were likewise suspended but it was discretionary on the part of the private sector.
Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo also issued a similar order.
The Banica River and the Okoy River 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, while trees were toppled and scouring was reported in some areas.
Some residents that were caught in the middle of the overflowing Okoy River were rescued.
Antonio Dales of Purok Atis in Balugo, Dumaguete City called for assistance after floodwaters scoured the ground on which his house was built.
Mayor Remollo, accompanied by the city’s Rescue 348 team and other officials, personally assessed Dales’ situation as floodwaters continue to threaten his house.
The Ticala spillway leading to Barangay Ticala in Valencia town also overflowed, cutting off access to that area and nearby barangays.
Spillways in Dumaguete also overflowed, causing the diversion of traffic, as these were sealed off to the riding public to avert any untoward incident.
The road leading to the slaughterhouse in lower Banilad, Dumaguete City was also closed because a mini-river swelled and murky water flowed down to the highway, causing flooding at the national highway.
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, said Sibulan Mayor Pepe Abiera.
In Bacong town, the foundation of a newly-built bridge at Bambulo Resort was washed out. The contractor, PhilSouth, could not be reached for comment.
Due to rough seas, smaller vessels like fast crafts and passenger motor bancas plying the Sibulan, Negros Oriental and Liloan, Cebu route were cancelled, said Lieutenant Junior Grade Donna Liza Ramacho.
However, flat-bottomed barges were still allowed to travel across the Tañon Strait between both islands despite huge waves.
Authorities are warning people not to let their guard down and keep monitoring weather advisories.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) announced Monday morning that a “yellow” alert level was hoisted over Negros Oriental.
A few hours later, the alert level color was changed to orange, meaning flooding is threatening low-lying areas and landslides in mountainous areas.
The tail-end of a cold front and a low pressure area have triggered the heavy downpour in Dumaguete and other areas in Negros Oriental.
Governor Degamo advised the public to continue monitoring weather advisories and for the local disaster risk reduction and management councils to undertake pre-emptive evacuation when necessary. (PNA)