One fisherman drowns, 24 others saved from rough seas in CamSur
By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---One fisherman drowned, 24 others were rescued on Friday, Jan. 12, as the seas went rough wrought by the tail-end of the cold front while about 8,059 persons were reported affected by flooding on Saturday, Jan. 13, due to incessant rains that hit Camarines Sur from Thursday to Friday last week. The Environment, Disaster Management and Emergency Response Office (Edmero) of Camarines Sur identified the fisherman who drowned as Lito Baruel, 47, of Barangay Gata, Caramoan, Camarines Sur. Marilou Bermeo, Edmero head, said the 24 fishermen who came from Catanduanes and Camarines Norte were on board three fishing vessels being battered by the rough seas when they were rescued off the coasts of the towns of Tinmabac and Siruma where they have temporarily stayed as of this reporting period. Fourteen rescued crew members of the fishing vessel that sank off the coast of Siruma on Friday have stayed at the house of Barangay Councilor Tony Cristobal of Barangay Pamintan in Siruma soon after their rescue. Meanwhile, Bermeo added that about 8,059 persons comprising 1,713 families in 22 barangays in the towns of Gainza, Milaor, Minalabac, Libmanan and Sagñay have been directly affected by floods in those towns on Saturday. Approximately 70 percent of this city have also been reported to have been affected by floodwaters until the morning of Friday. Floodwaters had soon subsided. Naga City Mayor John Bongat said the most affected is Sitio Clupa in Barangay Calauag here, considered as the catch basin for all water coming down from the upper barangays on the shoulders of Mt. Isarog. Residents reported floodwaters to have been risen neck deep that prompted quick evacuation of the elderly, children, pregnant women, and PWDs by the city government. Bongat said a total of 300 families were safely accommodated in the evacuation center of the city until the floodwater subsided. He said there are villages which were once spared from floodwaters but have now experienced flooding because of the road-widening road projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Bongat said they have already removed the obstruction of the drainage system which the DPWH contractor had installed because the cement was in its curing stage. He identified these road-widening projects that caused floods as those located in the barangay of San Felipe and along Panaganiban Avenue. In the neighboring town of Magarao, floodwaters have submerged several houses in Barangay Sta. Lucia where another road-widening project is on-going. Samuel Orpia, a resident affected by the floodwaters in the Barangay Sta. Lucia, said the water started to rise at about 6:00 a.m. Friday because of obstructions on the waterways. “For the past 20 years, this is the first time again that we experienced flooding because of the DPWH project,” he said. Magarao Mayor Philip Salvador Señar said he had informed the DPWH through a formal letter about the complaint of the residents in Sta. Lucia about obstructions of waterflow caused by materials used in the road-widening project. He said so far there were only three families who asked to be rescued from the floodwaters last week. Señar said 14 out of the 15 barangays in his town are located in low-lying areas but as of Friday morning only four villages were reported to be still under water. Rebecca Roces, DPWH district engineer of the second district of Camarines Sur, said they have deployed personnel to inspect the situation of the road-widening project in Sta. Lucia. Roces said they have found that both sides of the road in Sta. Lucia were flooded rice fields that made the area inundated.