Thousands flee floods in Western Visayas, Bicol

By: Carla Gomez, Mar Arguelles, Nikka Valenzuela - Philippine Daily Inquirer | January 10,2021 - 07:51 AM

Only days after cleaning up the mud caused by floods eight days ago, thousands of families in the Western Visayas and Bicol regions again tried to battle nature as a seasonal weather system pounded them with incessant rain and even more floods.

In Negros Occidental, at least 4,316 families, or 21,580 individuals, in the cities of Silay, Victorias and Talisay were evacuated due to floods on Friday and Saturday while one man was killed when his house made of light materials collapsed.

The three cities were the same ones hit by floods on New Year’s Day, forcing thousands of families to evacuate again.

In the Bicol Region, the rain has not stopped since Jan. 6 and has triggered flooding and landslides in different areas of Sorsogon and Catanduanes provinces.

The nonstop rain was caused by the tail end of a frontal system, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

The state weather service added that the prevailing weather system would bring rain over northern and central portions of Negros Occidental and parts of Western and Eastern Visayas, as well as the Bicol Region.

There is also a high chance of rain on Sunday in Visayas and Kalayaan islands.

Pagasa weather specialist Ana Clauren said Cagayan Valley and Cordillera Administrative Region might also continue to feel the surge of the northeast monsoon or “amihan.”

“The floods today and yesterday are worse because they hit wider areas and the water was deeper,” Victorias Mayor Francis Palanca said after floodwaters rose again on Friday.

Aside from the rains, Palanca said the floods worsened after the Malogo River in Victorias City overflowed and affected the whole relocation site.

Initial reports showed that 1,197 families with 5,985 members had been evacuated in Victorias, city administrator Dino Acuña said.

Talisay Mayor Neil Lizares said they had transferred 2,895 families where at least 12 houses were destroyed and 17 damaged.

In Silay City, 224 families were also evacuated, Silay Mayor Mark Golez said.

KNEE-DEEP WATERS Rescuers in Cadiz City help bring an old woman to safety.—CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Flood, lahar warnings

In Bicol, the Legazpi City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council raised flood and lahar warnings after the local weather bureau issued a red rainfall alert.

In Sorsogon, Dong Mendoza, a spokesperson for the office of the governor, said heavy rain swelled the river under Banagao Spillway in Matnog town, making the spillway unpassable to all types of vehicles.

Office of Civil Defense Bicol spokesperson Gremil Naz said in a report that 24 villages in Matnog, Sorsogon City, Juban, Gubat, Sta. Magdalena and Casiguran were flooded.

In Catanduanes, floods and landslide hit the towns of Bato, Panganiban and Viga, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management reported.

Landslide was reported in the Barangay Bagumbayan in Bato town in Catanduanes, closing the road to all types of vehicles except motorcycles.

Flooding due to river swelling submerged roads and farmlands in Barangay Talisay also in Bato town.

In Panganiban town, waters in the Panganiban river swelled, affecting roads, farmlands and villages.

In Viga, floodwaters from river channels also submerged roads and farmlands.

Flooding affected 71 families or 299 people from 10 villages in the towns of Gubat, Irosin, Matnog and Casiguran, all in Sorsogon.

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