Cagayan de Oro was declared under state of calamity on Tuesday , January 17 after heavy rain set off massive flooding brought by a low pressure area (LPA) over the Visayas and Mindanao.
According to the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department (CDRRMD) there were two weather systems, the low pressure area (LPA) and the tail-end of a cold front leaving thousands of students and workers stranded in some areas of the city on Monday afternoon.
The LPA and the tail end of the cold front also caused flooding in Iligan City, Oroquieta City in Misamis Occidental, parts of Zamboanga Peninsula, as well as Cebu and other parts of the Visayas.
Students and teachers of the Mindanao University of Science and Technology (MUST) were rescued by Army’s Fourth Infantry Division and the Police Regional Office-10 after 10 hours of being trapped inside the campus without food and water.
Moreover, hundreds of residents in CDO were forced to seek safer ground. Among the hundreds of evacuees were Alicia Rivero and her four grandchildren, who went to the Bulao Elementary School as floodwaters rose around their home in Barangay Iponan.
However, Josette Dionson and her four children are staying at the evacuation center in Barangay Macasindig’s covered court and some other 200 families after waist-high flood inundated their house.
City Social Welfare and Development Office said that, there are more than 1,000 families who have voluntarily fled to evacuation centers across Cagayan de Oro.
Forced evacuation was also carried out by the city government in the villages of Tumpagon, Pigsag-an, Lumbia, Tuuran, Pagalungan, Sansimon, Iponan, Blua, Pagatpat and Canitoan as the water level in Iponan River reached critical level.
CDRRMD weather monitoring specialist, Virgil Lago, said that residents in the affected areas were advised to leave their homes and proceed to evacuation centers voluntarily. It has also a rain gauge installed near the Cagayan de Oro river measured 166.2 millimeters of rainfall.
Responders from various government agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection, among others, were deployed to rescue stranded persons. Military trucks were also deployed to transport stranded commuters and to rescue those trapped in their houses. Power supply in the city was also cut off by the Cagayan de Oro Electric Power and Lights Company.
Furthermore, according to Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator Ricardo B. Jalad the weather in CDO has already improved but some areas are still flooded.
There were already about 1,654 families (6,827 individuals) returned to their homes out of 3,000 (12,452 individuals) who were forced to evacuate by swelling waterways , landslides and flashfloods.
However, the casualties were identified as Jaime Chan, 3 of Barangay Agay-ayan and Nilo Quiloman, 54 of Barangay Santiago in Gingoog City; Kian Montecino, 10 of Barangay Awang, Opol; CJ Lapuz, 7 of Barangay Mahayahay, Magsaysay; and Renny Boy Cabido, 14 of Upper Zone 3, Barangay Agusan and an unidentified person from Barangay Balulang, both from CDO.And a certain Abel Uano from Medina town is still missing.
The officer-in-charge of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), Fernando Dy stated that Gingoog City was among the hardest hit by floodwaters in the province, where 421 families were evacuated while landslides blocked the road in Manticao.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it is closely monitoring the situation of families displaced by flashfloods and landslides in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental and Iligan, Lanao del Norte and are set to airlift 9,000 family food packs, 2,000 dignity kits, 5,000 blankets, and 5,000 ready-to-eat Chicken Arroz Caldo to its field office in Northern Mindanao, pending the availability of a Philippine Air Force C130 plane. A standy fund of P7 million has also been allocated.
On the other hand , the flooding in Cagayan de Oro occurred six years and a month after Typhoon Sendong hit the city on December 16 and 17 in 2011. But the situation is not the same with that of Sendong in 2011 that resulted in the overflowing of “Ipunan” and “Cagayan River”.