100k displaced in Visayas, Mindanao; Bicol agri suffers heavily
Christmas Day floods have left eight people dead, three injured, 19 others missing, and forced the evacuation of over 100,000 people from their homes in six regions across Visayas and Mindanao, civil defense officials said Monday.
The Office of Civil Defense said the initial estimated damage to agriculture stood at over P59 million, mostly in Region 5 or Bicol, where the flood destroyed irrigation and plants.
For the infrastructure sector, the OCD said it received reports placing the damage at P14 million.
“The reports are continuously coming in as we speak. There will be additional updates,” OCD joint information head Diego Mariano said.
Rivers overflowed, swamping rural villages and highways as well as the cities of Ozamiz and Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental governor Henry Oaminal said.
“The heart of the city was flooded including the public market. Power was cut off and there was no (telephone) signal,” he said, referring to Oroquieta, the provincial capital with 72,000 residents.
“We’ve had floods before, but these are the worst rainfall and water flow levels we have ever had,” he added.
“The waters rose above the chest in some areas, but today the rains have ceased,” civil defense worker Robinson Lacre said from Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental, which accounted for 33,000 of the 45,700 people evacuated from their homes.
Gingoog Mayor Erick Cañosa has already declared a state of calamity to allow local authorities to access their calamity fund.
“Geographically, Gingoog is near rivers so it’s a catch basin,” said Marlon Pajo of the Gingoog City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
Seven deaths – mostly from drowning – were reported in Clarin and the nearby southern towns of Jimenez and Tudela in Misamis Occidental.
The Coast Guard also said strong winds and big waves sank a fishing boat on Christmas Day off the coast of the central island of Leyte. Two crew members were killed, while six others were rescued.
Two others, including a baby girl, drowned in the eastern towns of Libmanan and Tinambac in Camarines Sur after they were hit by floods days before Christmas, the civil defense office said.
Some 23 fishermen aboard two boats that capsized when hit by big waves off the southern city of Zamboanga were also rescued on Sunday.
Nineteen people remain missing, most of them subsistence fishermen.
According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, around 15,487 families or 69,323 individuals in 98 barangays were affected by the massive flooding due to heavy rainfall caused by the shear line.
Social Marketing Service director Marlouie Sulima said that based on a report by the DSWD Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center, 55 of the barangays were in Caraga and Northern Mindanao regions.
“We are in constant coordination with DSWD field offices in the affected localities to determine the number of family food packs (FFPs) needed to be delivered,” he said, adding they have around 60,905 pre-positioned FFPs that are in stand-by status, ready for immediate distribution among the victims.
According to the weather bureau, the shear line will continue to affect the Visayas and Mindanao regions, bringing scattered to widespread rain showers.
On the other hand, the northeast monsoon or “amihan” is affecting Luzon and will bring cloudy skies with rain showers.