Heavy rains triggered floods, landslides in 7 southern towns, 1 city; 2 deaths reported
Mary Flor Basadre-Quirante was trembling as she was packing her things inside her devastated house in Barangay Looc, Malabuyoc town, about 137 km south of Cebu City.
Tropical storm “Agaton” didn’t just destroy her home. It also took her mother, Flora Basadre, 63.
“Di na mi mobalik dinhi. Di na namo kaya (We would not come back here. We could not take the pain anymore),” said Quirante.
Basadre was killed after huge rocks and heaps of soil rushed down from the mountains and hit a portion of their house in Barangay Looc, about 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
She was one of the two fatalities reported in Malabuyoc -one of the seven towns and one city in the south that were affected by Agaton.
Ritchie Pimentel, 39, died after he fell from the stairs of their two-story house in Barangay Santo Niño, Malabuyoc, when he woke up in the dark amid heavy rains and strong winds past 3 a.m.
Agaton, the first typhoon to enter the country in 2018, maintained its strength with 55 kilometers per hour maximum sustained winds and 90 kph gustiness despite making landfall five times since early Tuesday morning.
It last made landfall at Bais City, Negros Oriental at 7:30 a.m. after Socorro town in Surigao del Norte, Claver town, also in Surigao, Jagna town in Bohol and Santander town in Cebu.
Cebu was placed under Storm Signal No. 1 early Tuesday morning that led to the cancellation of sea travel which affected 300 passengers.
But the trips resumed past 2 p.m. after the storm signal was lifted.
Agaton, however, had caused damaged to Cebu’s southern towns and city.
The PDRRMO received reports of landslides in parts of Malabuyoc, Alegria and Ginatilan towns as well as of flash floods in Carcar City and the towns of Sibonga, Dumanjug, Barili and Boljoon.
Quirante recalled that they were roused from sleep by her mother’s screams as rocks started falling into their house in Barangay Looc, Malabuyoc.
“She got scared and was about to faint. My father fetched her a glass of water. When my father left the room, the walls collapsed and fell on her,” said Quirante.
She said her father tried to save her mother but he could not remove the volume of rocks and soil that buried Basadre.
Basadre was finally pulled out from the debris at about 5 a.m. and was brought to the nearby hospital where she was declared dead on arrival.
Manny Basadre, the victim’s son, said the start of the new year was sad for the family.
“We didn’t expect that (Monday night) would be the last time we would be with Mama,” he said.
In another village in Malabuyoc, a mother was mourning over the loss of her son.
Demetria Pimentel said she could not believe that her son, Ritchie, was gone.
“It would have been better that he didn’t come home for the New Year,” said Demetria, sobbing as she watched the remains of her son.
Pimentel, eldest of four children, worked as a production worker at Cebu Mitsumi Inc. in Danao City, north of Cebu, and would seldom come home to Malabuyoc to save money.
“He was the breadwinner of the family after his father died,” said Demetria.
Ritchie slipped and fell from the second floor of their house after he didn’t notice that the steps of the stairs were wet because of the rain. His head hit the cemented floor.
Demetria said she was able to catch Ritchie’s hand but was not strong enough to pull him and prevent him from falling. In the end, she lost her grasp on her son’s hand.
He was rushed to M.J. Cuenco Memorial Hospital in Barangay Poblacion, Malabuyoc but the physicians advised the family to bring him to the hospital in Cebu City.
Ritchie later died at 6:33 a.m.
Around 500 meters away from Pimentel’s house, residents in Sitio Tawaan in Barangay Sto. Niño were soaked in mud as soil and water from the nearby mountain came gushing into their houses at around 3 a.m.
Gina Sabate, a mother of seven children, cried all her frustrations as she helplessly watched her food supplies soaked in mud and water.
“Our rice was wet. My children had nothing else to wear,” she said.
Sabate said this was the second time that mud and water entered their house following heavy rains.
“Before, the water was knee-high. Now, it was waist-deep,” she added.
Sto. Niño barangay Captain Erlinda Piedal said they would provide food packs to the affected families.
In Boljoon town, heavy rains caused Lusapon River in Barangay Upper Becerril to overflow, triggering flash floods that affected 23 families or 123 individuals and destroyed two houses.
No one was hurt as the residents were able to evacuate to the gymnaisum in Barangay Poblacion in the nick of time.
“It was a good thing that the residents were able to evacuate shortly before the flash flood,” said Julius Regner, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office spokesman.
Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama said classes in Boljoon Central Elementary School would be suspended today since mud and water entered the classrooms.
In Mandaue City, at least 1,500 houses in three zones in Barangay Paknaan, were again submerged in flood water after the Butuanon River overflowed following heavy rains spawned by Agaton.
Zones Talong, Sili and Ahos in Barangay Paknaan were usually affected whenever the river would overflow due to the shallow riverbed in these areas.
When Agaton dumped heavy rains in Cebu, Butuanon River overflowed, sending water and mud into 1,500 houses which damaged the appliances as well as some motor vehicles.
Wilma Fuentes, 55, lamented that the city government relocated them to Zone Ahos where they would be safer since they were living in an area classified as danger zone.
It turned out that their relocation site was more dangerous since it was prone to floods, she added.
The affected families also refused to leave their homes out of fear that their houses might be looted.
Fortunately, the water subsided by 3:30 p.m.
Acting Mandaue City Mayor Carlo Fortuna ordered the construction of a riprap of Butuanon River to prevent the water from overflowing. /with a report from Nestle Semilla and Norman Mendoza