Cortes to City Council: Place Mandaue under state of calamity

·6 min read

MANDAUE City officials have recommended to the City Council to place the entire city under a state of calamity following the downpour last Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, which caused floods that swept away 14 houses and displaced 1,837 individuals.

In a Facebook post, Mayor Jonas Cortes said he had an emergency meeting with the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Saturday morning, Sept. 10, to discuss the flood last Friday.

They agreed to recommend to the City Council to place the entire city under a state of calamity.

The declaration will allow the City to tap the calamity funds so it can immediately provide aid to affected families and help them rebuild their homes in safer places, the mayor said.

Cortes said he will also schedule a meeting with officials of national government agencies to address the worsening flood problem and the swelling of rivers every time it rains.

Evacuation

Camelo Basaca Jr., head of the Mandaue City Social Welfare Services (CSWS), said the flood affected 17 families or 70 individuals in Barangay Paknaan, 170 families or 650 individuals in Barangay Casungtingan, 57 families or 232 individuals in Barangay Tabok, 146 families or 587 individuals in Barangay Umapad and 77 families or 298 individuals in Barangay Tingub.

Earlier, Karlo Cabahug, head of the Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) research and planning division, said they ordered the preemptive evacuation of the families around 2 p.m. on Friday when the water level in the Butuanon River rose due to the heavy rains.

Cabahug said the flood was from waist to head level, especially in Casuntingan and Paknaan.

He said there was heavy rain in the river’s upper stream in the upland areas, resulting in the strong surge of water downstream.

Basaca said the City Government distributed sleeping tents and disaster kits to the affected families.

The families also received food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7.

Mandaue Lone District Rep. Emmarie “Lolypop” Ouano-Dizon, for her part, said her office will allot P200 million to help affected residents.

Dizon said she will meet with Cortes and officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to discuss measures that will permanently solve Mandaue City’s flood problem.

In a separate interview, City Councilor Andreo Ouano Icalina said the City Council will also discuss providing financial assistance to affected families. The council is also expected to pass a resolution during the regular session on Monday, Sept. 12, extending help to the families.

Homes lost

Gera Penero of the CSWS said they identified 14 houses that were swept by the raging floodwaters in Casuntingan on Friday.

The CDRRMO, though, said the number is not final yet as they are still validating reports of houses washed away during the heavy downpour.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu, Elsa Refugio, 41, recounted her experience last Friday. She said it was the first time she experienced flood water reaching their roof. She said they rushed out of their house the moment they noticed the water rising.

“Naa man mi haligi nga nine feet. Usually mga eight feet rajud na ang tubig. Pero kadto wala uy, perting taasa, lapas taw gyud. Sakit lang ako dughan naglantaw sa amung balay gianod (We have a post that’s about nine feet. Usually the water only reaches eight feet. But that time, the water level was higher than any of us. It was heart-shattering to see our house being swept away),” said Refugio.

Refugio hopes the City can relocate them as soon as possible. Until then, she and her family will stay at the Casuntingan Gym.

It was also painful news for Analiza Mañigo, 49, who was at work when the incident happened.

Mañigo said she got a text message from one of her neighbors who informed her that her house was swept by the flood.

Mañigo may have lost her home of six years, but she said she is still glad her four sons went out for a school activity and were not home that time.

Drainage

Flood has long been a problem in Mandaue City but it was the first time that multiple houses were washed away by flood water.

In 2017, the City Government, with the help of DPWH, came up with a comprehensive drainage master plan that included long-term flood mitigation projects.

The plan, though, has yet to be fully implemented due to lack of funds and road right-of-way issues. Some projects also could not take off due to the many houses built within the three-meter easement on waterways.

Architect Marlo Ocleasa, head of the City Planning and Development Office, said on Friday that the drainage plan might take a few more years to fully implement as the City Government could not fund the projects yet.

Ocleasa had said the drainage plan costs about P5 billion to implement, but the City Government can only fund projects worth P150 million.

He said one of the causes of the delay is the need for road right-of-way, which required negotiations with private lot owners for the purchase of a portion of their properties.

Ocleasa also cited the informal settler families (ISFs) who built their houses within the city’s danger zones.

The danger zones or flood-prone areas in Mandaue are Barangays Centro, Looc, Opao, Umapad, Cambaro, Subangdaku and Paknaan, according to the Office of the City Engineer.

Data from the Housing and Urban Development Office showed that there are about 3,512 ISFs in the city as of August 2022.

Ocleasa said the City Government must first provide a relocation site to families that will be affected by the projects.

He said, though, that phases one and two of the drainage master plan are about to be finished with the help of DPWH.

These projects include the Paknaan flood project, drainage installation on V.B. Cabahug St. in Barangay Opao, concreting and drainage rehabilitation on J. Alinsug St. in Barangay Basak and J.M. Ceniza St. in Barangay Looc, Butuanon River Slope Protection in Barangays Umapad and Paknaan and drainage and concreting in Barangay Looc.

Other projects are road concreting of Albano St. in Barangay Subangdaku, road improvement of B. Suico St. in Barangay Pagsabungan, drainage rehabilitation and concreting in Barangay Labogon, the Barangay Tipolo flood project, drainage improvement at Rolling Hills on A.S. Fortuna St. and E. Espina St. in Barangay Banilad.

Ocleasa could not confirm how many phases have yet to be started, but he said they are about to start drainage projects on A.S. Fortuna St. in Banilad this year.

Other areas that will be prioritized are Greenhills Subdivision in Barangay Casuntingan, Basak Creek (downstream) and Tipolo Creek, particularly the section going to M.C. Briones St. across San Miguel Corp.