KIDAPAWAN CITY – Two days of rain has flooded several villages and towns in southern Philippines and forced nearly 700 people to flee their homes on Tuesday.
Benito Ramos, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council head, said parts of Sarangani, North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces were flooded after two days of pounding rain set off by a brewing tropical storm.
Two men died while a total of 250 houses were destroyed when a flashflood hit two villages in Glan town, Sarangani province Tuesday. The flashflood struck the villages of Big Margus Proper and Pangyan Cross. The Armed Forces of the Philippines reported 50 families were also displaced by flashfloods.
Sarangani Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez identified the victims as Sagapo Cabigding and Rolando Mata. A certain Rani Pregoner is also reported missing. Nineteen fishermen were also rescued by the authorities from the big waves that battered the area for several hours.
The governor said that based on the report coming from Ben Solarte of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, about 139 houses were totally damaged while 111 houses were partially destroyed by the floodwaters.
A flashflood also struck four villages in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat on Monday. It started around 9 p.m. and affected barangays Obial, Sta. Clara, Hinalaan, and Himulan. A total of 2,460 families were affected by the flooding, while 23 families were forcibly evacuated by the authorities.
In Malaybalay, Bukidnon, a flashflood also struck barangays Cabangahan, Bangkud, Aglayan, and Linabo at 4:45 p.m. after Bugkaon River overflowed due to continuous heavy rains brought about by the shallow low pressure area.
Some 44 families whose houses are situated near a riverbank in this city evacuated to higher grounds when floodwaters reached as high as 15 feet at around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, residents said.
Nurkaya Patadon, 42, one of the flood victims in this city, said many of their appliances and valuables were swept out to the Nuangan River, one of the longest rivers in North Cotabato.
Patadon's family, including 43 other families, decided to leave their homes for fear the waters might rise again due to torrential rains.
Heavy rains started to pour at around 9:30 p.m. on Monday and continued until Tuesday afternoon, said Psalmer Bernalte, head of the Kidapawan City Emergency Response Unit (KidCeru), one of the groups that conducted rescue operations.
Kasan Maruhom, one of the displaced residents, said that Tuesday’s flashfloods was the worst since 2000.
"We never thought the floodwaters could rise as high as 15 feet. What happened was the worst. I've lived in this area for more than 30 years," Maruhom said.
Maruhom said he would transfer his family to Mundog Subdivision in Poblacion.
Others, however, have problems finding areas for their relocation.
"We don't know where to go. We have no place to stay other than the riverbank. Our workplace is here in the Poblacion," said Salik Quila, also one of the flood victims.
Bernalte said the waters of Nuangan River, already considered a dead river in Kidapawan City, became turbulent as heavy rains continue to fall across North Cotabato due to low pressure area, which brought widespread rain showers and thunderstorms.
Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco has already ordered the immediate evacuation of the families living near the riverbanks, including Lapu-Lapu Street, Cotelco Village, and Licatan Subdivision, all in Poblacion here.
"We've already given them orders in the past to leave the place, yet, they won't listen," Gantuangco said.
Gantuangco said a relocation site in Barangay Balindog, about five kilometers away from the Poblacion, is set for the victims.
He said they will declare this city under state of calamity so they can use a portion of their funds to help the flood victims.
He added that he already ordered the City Social Welfare and Development Office and the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to assess and evaluate the situation and immediately conduct relief operations on Wednesday. (Malu Cadelina Manar/BOT of Sun.Star Davao/AP/Sunnex)