WITH the incessant five-hour rain on Sunday brought by the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) near Visayas and Mindanao islands, a heavy downpour inundated four barangays, including a commercial district in Cagayan de Oro City where high-rise hotels, condominiums and malls abound.

Around 240 families were evacuated Sunday evening following the flooding due to the swelling of Bitan-ag creek, waterways and Iponan River.

The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) advised five families in Barangay 26, 131 families at sitio Bulao in Iponan, 80 families in Canitoan, and 24 families at sitio Dulawan in Lumbia to temporarily leave their houses due to flooding in their areas.

Debris cleared from Bitan-ag creek in Cagayan de Oro
CAGAYAN DE ORO. Workers at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) remove on Monday, June 30, the debris from Bitan-ag creek along CM Recto Avenue due to Sunday's heavy downpour. (Joey P. Nacalaban)

Knee and waist deep waters

Mario Verner Monsanto, CDRRMC chief, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that the long heavy rains brought flood-prone areas in the city to knee and waist-high deep around 8 p.m. Sunday.

Heavy rains started to pour in the city and neighboring areas since 6 p.m. and lasted for around five hours.

The most affected area was Barangay 26 after the Bitan-ag creek overflowed, Monsanto said. The creek is located at the commercial district that went flooded.

Affected residents were housed in their respective barangay halls while evacuees in Iponan were sheltered in Bulao Elementary School and Iponan Multipurpose Cooperative plaza.

More informed

Geraldine Damasing, 41, resident of Bitan-ag creekside in Barangay 26, said they stayed on top of their neighbor's house as the creek’s water level began to rise.

“We had to move our livestock, our children and our belongings to higher ground as the creek’s water rose. We didn’t sleep so we could monitor the water,” Damasing said.

Councilor Anthony Brilleta of Iponan told Sun.Star by phone that residents in Bulao evacuated around 1 a.m. Monday after the river swelled from nonstop rains.

The City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) said residents in flood-prone areas are more informed now.

“Those who were affected in 2012 when Pablo hit are also affected now. They already knew what to do since we had taught them the safety measures after Pablo,” said Teddy Sabuga-a, CSWD chief.

Sabuga-a said his team is closely working with the CDRRMO in distributing relief goods to the evacuation centers around 3:50 a.m. Monday.

Edwin Dael, City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) chief, suspected illegal logging activities in Barangay Indahag and some Bukidnon towns could have caused logs to hinder continuous flow of the water.

“One of our problems is the clogged waterways. Our drainages are narrow and easily inundated by garbage and cut logs,” Dael said.


Richard Palma, 45, a resident living near Bitan-ag creek, urged government officials to rehabilitate the drainage in Barangay 26 because flooding has occurred almost every time heavy rain falls.

"In my 20 years here, this is not the first time since this is always the case every time heavy rain comes. The government should reconstruct this part; elevate the highway to give elbow room to the culvert under this road," Palma said.

However, Monsanto said this issue is not a matter of the structure of the ditch.

"As we can see in the creek, people continue to dump their garbage. I think people should also be responsible. This is not just about the government. This is also about them," Monsanto said of the creekside residents.

“In Lumbia, we already asked them previously to leave the area since they were also affected by Pablo in 2012. However, families in the area kept coming back,” he added.

In its advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said light, moderate to heavy rains all over Mindanao may still continue within 24 hours.

For this, the CDRRMO in Cagayan de Oro also issued advisories to residents, particularly those in low-lying areas, along riverbanks and hillsides, to take precautionary measures and be ready for possible evacuations.