INTO the first few weeks after the Philippine weather bureau announced the start of the rainy season this month, the downpours in varying scale and intensity have already unleashed another cycle of flooding and landslides in our midst.
A bit shortly before the bureau’s announcement, Tropical Storm Dante sent off heavy rain earlier than downfall, which caused landslides in areas in Cebu, the worse of them, although minor, took place along the Manipis-Toledo Road, in Camp 6, Barangay Manipis, Talisay City.
Talisay Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas Jr. on social media promptly warned against using the route. The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) immediately recommended the temporary closure of the road, pending an improvement of the weather.
More currently, over the last weekend, the City had to evacuate about 841 families from five barangays following an overflow of the Mananga River at a very vulnerable part of the night when families were already in their households. The high waters rising on the Mananga River was reported at 6:55 p.m.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office said 107 families were evacuated in Barangay Dumlog, 244 in Barangay Lawaan, 3,130 families in Barangay Lawaan 2,230 in Barangay Lagtang and 130 in Barangay Biasong.
The CDRRMO, led by Alvin Santillana, mobilized the barangays’ emergency responders, and reports went that in Sitio Bahala, Barangay Dumlog, residents were already forced to wade on floodwaters that reached neck-deep. Santillana had to seek the help of the City police, the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Philippine Coast Guard. Water started to recede by around 9 p.m., but only reached knee-deep an hour after. The City Government immediately sent aid to the evacuees, although later allowing them to go home with a reminder to be watchhful of rising floodwaters.
Such being the cases, it will be of best interest for the City to come up already with short- and long-term solutions.
The problems have been recognized, and since widespread rain will be here until September yet, as the weather bureau forecasts, Mayor Gullas can create a team of department heads and consultants to come up with a more comprehensive plan to protect and keep the residents along Mananga River. Early warning devices should do as one of the protocols, a grassroots makeshift rain gauge, perhaps, and an efficient communication system that would cover the residents.
In the long haul, the City can address erosion in riverbank areas. The City may already have mapped out hazardous areas, and with it, can begin mulling solutions.
The weekend incident’s takeaway is the message of urgency to address the problem to save lives. The volume of rain has steadily increased through the years in this time of climate change, as scientists have observed. The flooding and landslides are apparently our new normal, and management foresight dictates a comprehensive and urgent approach.