Preemptive evacuation helps Bohol achieve zero casualty during Agaton
BOHOL, Philippines – Bohol recorded zero casualty after Tropical Depression Agaton brought heavy rains that triggered massive flooding in at least 4 towns of the province at the start of the new year.
Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto credited the feat to the preemptive evacuation of residents living near river banks, areas prone to landslides, and low-lying areas that was done hours before Agaton made a landfall on Jagna town at 4 am on Tuesday, January 2.
"Let us all thank God again and again....Bohol is not very badly affected by Agaton," Chatto said in a text message to all town chief executives and local media.
Although damage to property and agriculture was still being assessed as of posting, Bohol's 47 town disaster and risk reduction councils initially reported no deaths after the onslaught of Agaton, which brought torrential rains to the province that lasted for more than 24 hours.
"The Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMO) will make an official announcement soon [on official estimates of the damage]. Assessment of damage province-wide is ongoing," said Chatto.
The heavy downpour brought by Agaton caused the abnormal swelling of major rivers in Bohol, particularly the world-famous Loboc River in Loboc and Sevilla towns, the river in Inabanga town, and Makapiko River in Batuan town.
Water levels in the 3 major irrigation dams – Malinao Dam in Pilar town, Bayongan Dam in San Miguel town, and Capayas Dam in Ubay town – rose to critical levels.
In Loboc, the swollen river flooded tracts of land planted with rice.
In Inabanga town, Mayor Roygie Jumamoy mobilized all town personnel in anticipation of possible flooding as the Inabanga River's water level rose beyond normal levels.
"Had the rain continued, we would have welcomed 2018 with horrible flooding," Jumamoy said.
Hundreds of residents in various towns were forced to evacuate hours before the rivers overflowed, reported Anthony Damalerio, PDRRMO head.
Food packs were distributed in evacuation centers as Agaton lashed at Bohol, particularly its coastal towns.
"As of now, all evacuees have been allowed to return homes," Damalerio told Rappler on Wednesday, January 3.
Bohol has an estimated population of 1.3 million residing in 47 towns (including 111 islets) and in the capital city of Tagbilaran, or a total of 1,109 barangays.
Chatto placed Bohol on "high red alert" status on New Year's Day, hours before state weather bureau Pagasa hoisted storm warning signal number one over Bohol and 16 other provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.
As the year drew to a close, Bohol had braced for typhoons Urduja and Vinta, but the two storms swerved and maintained their direction across Mindanao provinces. – Rappler.com