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Council OKs P50M to flood-hit barangays

The Davao City government yesterday allocated P50 million worth of assistance for the victims of the flood that hit several barangays in the city.

In a special session yesterday, the council approved the allocation to help around 17,800 affected individuals in four barangays declared under the state of calamity.

The amount covers food, non-food, financial, agricultural and medical needs that will benefit at least 3,559 families in the barangays of Talomo Proper (Talomo District), Wangan (Calinan District), Los Amigos and Tugbok Proper (Tugbok District).

The city government placed the four most hard-hit barangays under the state of calamity because of the extent of the damage.

The budget will come from the Quick Response Fund of the city.

The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) said that aside from the four barangays declared under the state of calamity, other barangays where the Talomo River traverses were also affected.

The other affected barangays, not declared under the state of calamity, include Calinan Proper in Calinan District and Balengaeng and Santo Nino in Tugbok District (all in the third congressional district) and Catalunan Pequeno, Matina Aplaya, Matina Crossing and Matina Pangi (all in Talomo District in the first congressional district). According to TV Patrol Mindanao, those barangays not declared as state of calamity will not get the assistance.

Flashfloods hit nine puroks in Los Amigos, the Tugbok National High School, a purok in Barangay Mintal, Sitio Talipapa in Sto. Nino (which was hit by a fire Thursday last week), Keith Williams in Catalunan Pequeno, three areas in Matina Crossing, and at least 12 puroks in Talomo Proper, including the worst hit Teacher’s Village and NHA Subdivision in Bangkal, both lying along the riverbank. The NHA Subdivision in Bangkal, a sitio in Barangay Talomo Proper, was also severely hit in the 2011 flashflood that killed at least 27 persons and displaced 13,000 residents.

CDRRMO operations and warnings head Rodrigo Bustillo said the massive swelling of the Talomo River following heavy rains caused the flood.

The Talomo River starts in Calinan District and ends in Talomo District, particularly between the barangays of Talomo Proper (sitio Bangkal) and Matina Aplaya.

“We are very lucky that there is no casualty recorded due to the flood, but we have to instill in the minds of the people that these affected areas are considered as hazard and no build zones and hopefully they respond to our call to vacate the area,” he said.

He told reporters that the agency hit its warning systems as early as Wednesday afternoon.

The CDRRMO official said the agency monitored bad weather as early as 3 p.m. and began updating barangays around the Talomo River to pre-emptively evacuate an hour later.

Around 5:30 p.m., the agency ordered their barangay counterparts to implement a forced evacuation of the residents to ensure that there would be zero casualties.

However, there were some who either refused to leave their houses or who were not able to receive the message.

Bustillo admitted that the lines of the Central 911 were flooded with requests for assistance and rescue by stranded individuals.

Jefry Tupas, City Information Officer, told reporters even the city’s Davao City Reports and City Government of Davao official Facebook pages were also flooded with requests that the office forwarded to a central command center linking Acting Mayor Sebastian Duterte with the rest of the city government.

Bustillo said the rescue operation ‪on Thursday night‬ could have been avoided if only the residents responded to the call of the CDRRMO and the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (BDRRMC) to evacuate.

“The City follows a no rescue policy that is why we strongly warn these people to conduct pre-emptive evacuation, but they do not cooperate with us. A rescue operation is not easy, even the rescuers are at risk,” he said.

The CDRRMO officer said Wednesday’s incident was the first time the Talomo River was flooded in that magnitude in the past two decades.

“I am only speaking for myself, but I have lived in the city for 20 years and this is the first time,” Bustillo said.

The families have been temporarily housed at evacuations centers in their respective barangays.

After the thunderstorm, the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) immediately sent hot meals to the evacuation areas to fulfill the needs of the victims for hot food.

“Community kitchen was immediately set up to provide hot meals to the affected families. For now, we are still validating the total number of affected individuals since the assessment is still ongoing” CSSDO Assistant Head Marlyn Agonia said.

Lorna Alderite, acting chief of the Farm Division of the City Agriculturist Office, said an assessment is ongoing to determine the damage to crops.

She said affected farmers of high value crops and operators of catfish ponds in Los Amigos can access support from the city government.

“For owners of the fishponds, you can request for free fingerlings every first Friday of the month,” she said.

A bridge in Barangay Pangyan, Calinan District was washed out. The bailey bridge, used as an alternate route in Talomo Proper, was also damaged and is now impassable.

Power outages also occurred in the affected barangays since Wednesday as part of the precautionary measures of the Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC).

In a statement issued at 9:40 a.m. Thursday, DLPC said power lines were cut at 7 p.m. Wednesday to avoid “electrocution incidents as water already submerged houses and their electrical outlets.” Power has not been restored in Bangkal, Ulas and Tugbok

In a forecast issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pag-asa) at 4 a.m. on Thursday, Mindanao will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers due to localized thunderstorms.

It added Davao Region will continue to experience cloudy to very cloudy skies with scattered and intermittent light to moderate rainshowers.

Meanwhile, the CIO said a project was already in the pipeline that would incorporate city government services on the radio airwaves.

The National Telecommunications Center, Tupas said, has already identified a frequency to be used by the city government.

The city is seeing a 2020 launch of the FM project.

“The vision is to answer the needs and weaknesses during disasters,” Tupas said, adding that one of the major weaknesses was communications.

However, Bustillo said that the preemptive approach was still the primary response to disasters, with rescuers putting themselves at more risk if residents refuse to heed calls to evacuate properties and rely on rescuers.

“I tell you,” Bustillo said, “during disasters like that, communications will be very difficult.” (with CIO and Mindanews)

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