Floods hit Bicol
By Ana-Liza S. Macatangay & Mar S. Arguelles PILI, Camarines Sur --- Camarines Sur Governor Miguel “Migz” Villafuerte ordered the suspension of classes Wednesday (Jan. 3) due to the heavy flooding, particularly in the towns of Buhi, Bato and Lagonoy, as a result of continuous rain brought by Tropical Depression (TD) Agaton. In a memorandum, the young Villafuerte directed all mayors, MDRRMC chairpersons and school heads of both private and public schools to temporarily suspend classes due to the incessant rains being experienced in the province during the past few weeks. The order’s premise is the serious threat and hazard that the flooding might bring to the vulnerable communities. As of 11:00 pm Tuesday, 70 per cent of the households in the municipality of Buhi were already submerged in flood water. Three families from Barangay San Buenaventura were already sent to the LGU evacuation center to ensure their safety. A total of 16 barangays in the said town are still under heavy flooding, including San Pascual, with 110 households affected; Sta. Elena and Sta. Clara which are near the lake shore; San Pedro within the vicinity of Rinaga River and in Sta. Cruz where 6 persons were stranded and are currently housed at the LGU evacuation center. Other Buhi barangays still affected by floodwater include Ipil, Iraya, Sagrada Sitio Pito, Igbac, Ibayugan, Tambo, Cabatuan, Salvacion, Delafe and San Jose Baybayon. Flooding was noted in Barangays Tres Reyes, Sta. Cruz and Manga in the town of Bato affecting 25 families who were evacuated at the back of the municipal hall. In Sta. Cruz, 8 families (40 individuals) are still in the evacuation center due to the two feet deep floodwater that engulfed the affected area. A landslide in Zone 1, Barangay Manga measuring 30 meters long was also reported which blocked half of the road way. In a regular update by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), through the Environment Disaster Management and Emergency Response Office (EDMERO) Chief Lucena “Che” Bermeo, it was shown that the spillway in Barangay HImagtocon in Lagonoy was already put on “Orange alert” which means that flooding is a definite threat in the said community. Bermeo also reported that a portion in Barangay Bangan in Lupi remains deteriorated due to water run-off. An erosion also occurred where two houses were also reported damaged. Affected families were immediately evacuated to the day care center while others opted to stay in their relatives’ houses as temporary shelter. The Sangay-Tiwi road, particularly in Sitio Lubas, Barangay Sibaguan where there was an eroded shoulder, one lane is already passable for light vehicles only. The PDRRMC continues to monitor weather updates from PAG ASA and closely coordinates with the barangay captains and MDRRMOs. They continue to provide weather advisories to the public via SMS and the EDMERO Camarines Sur facebook page. Meanwhile, Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara on Friday ordered the evacuation of villagers living in flood and landslide prone areas in the towns and cities situated at the eastern seaboard of the province affected by intense rains brought by the TECF. Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office (APSEMO) in an interview said the evacuation order was a preemptive disaster mitigating measure. Daep said intense rains has overly saturated the soils in Albay. He explained that “continuous 8mm rainfall per hour could saturate the soil that can trigger flooding and land mass to cascade down mountain slopes.” Melody Azur, chief of Legazpi City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMC), said one-foot to shoulder-deep floodwaters hit several low lying villages in the city’s business district, including villages in the northern district. Azur blamed the improper garbage disposal practice by residents, especially the disposal of plastic wastes for the clogging of the drainage system. Rivers are now silted and constricted because of the wastes indiscriminately thrown away by residents especially those living in houses built along river channels. Yucot said at least 435 families were evacuated to safer grounds in Sorsogon (419) and in Camarines Sur (16). Floodings were also reported in the towns Irosin, Castilla, Casiguran, Magallanes, Bulusan and Barcelona, all in Sorsogon. Classes in all levels were suspended in the provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Sur while a local suspension of classes were ordered in the 12 towns including Sorsogon City in Sorsogon province. In Catanduanes, Governor Joseph Cua ordered on Wednesday the suspension of classes in all levels in the island province due to heavy rains brought by the effects of tropical depression ‘Agaton’ still prevailing in the vicinity of Palawan. Cua in his Executive Order directed all public and private schools and universities to suspend classes as a precautionary measure in view of heightened risks to public health, safety and welfare. The Governor also directed the 11 Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) to be prepared to carry out their respective disaster risk and reduction plans focused on flood, wind, landslide and storm surge prone areas of the province. He also advised the various MDRMC to undertake the proper disaster management protocols such as possible evacuation of residents living in flood, landslide and storm surge prone areas. The order also directed the MDRRMC to conduct an inventory of the number of vulnerable population groups that needs to be evacuated once the weather situation worsens. The local weather station has forecasted continuous heavy rainfall would prevail in the Bicol region due to ‘Agaton’. Meanwhile, landslide hit at least 5 major road networks in the towns of Viga, Caramoran and Gigmoto, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Bicol said yesterday. Lucy Castaneda, DPWH Bicol spokesperson, in an interview said the affected roads are not passable to all types of vehicles as landslide debris covered the two lane road in these areas. Castaneda said affected road networks are the Catanduanes Circumferential Road in Barangay Summit in Viga, barangay Giamlong in Caramoran; the Baras-Gigmoto-Viga Road in barnagays Dororan and Biong in Gigmoto town. In Sorsogon, landslide also rendered impassable Wednesday morning the Ariman-Casiguran Road in Barangay Bentuco in Gubat town. Castaneda said government engineers and heavy equipment were deployed to clear the areas hit by landslide. Castaneda said that except for the road networks hit by landslide, all road networks in Bicol are passable.