Mindanao still on alert for Agaton

Karlos Manlupig
Communities in areas affected by Tropical Depression Agaton continue to brace for the worst, as the storm hovers just southeast of Mindanao

FLOODED. Residents gather next to a flooded basketball court at a village in Butuan City on January 17, 2014, as floods inundated villages and towns after heavy rains. Erwin Mascarinas/AFP

MATI CITY, Philippines – Mindanao, particularly Caraga and the Davao regions, are still on alert Monday, January 20, for Tropical Depression Agaton, which has been bringing continuous rains and strong winds to the region for days.

As of 4 am Monday, Agaton was located 230 km southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, or 230 km east of Davao City, carrying maximum sustained winds of 55 km/h near its center.

Public storm warning signal number 1 is still hoisted over Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, and Compostela Valley. Rainfall in these areas can be moderate to heavy (5-15 mm/h), the bureau said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) earlier reported that 40 people were killed across the island due to flooding and landslides.

The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Surigao del Sur, meanwhile, said a dead body was recovered in a river in the town of San Miguel, bringing the total number of casualties to 41.

“At around 4pm [Saturday], January 18, the body of an unidentified man has been found floating in Tago River, Brgy Poblacion, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. The cadaver is now at the custody of the PNP at the municipal hall while waiting for the relatives/family to claim [it],” PIA-Surigao del Sur said.

Around 65 others were also hurt while 6 are still missing across the island.

Ready for Agaton

In the town of Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental, the local government unit and residents are already anticipating the damage Agaton will bring, as it is in the predicted path of the storm.

Mayor Vicente Orencia said barangay (village) officials have already went around communities to advise residents to prepare their belongings for possible evacuation.

Emergency responders are now on standby while evacuation centers are ready to accept displaced residents, Orencia said.

“We have already advised residents living along the shorelines and landslide area to prepare,” Orencia said.

“We are praying that Agaton will just pass by and would not devastate us,” Orencia added.
Several towns, including the Typhoon Pablo devastated towns of Baganga, Cateel and Boston are still isolated after bridges were destroyed last week.

In the Typhoon Pablo-hit town of New Bataan, at least 37 families were evacuated on Saturday evening, said Capt. Alberto Caber, chief of the public information office of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command.

Meanwhile in Butuan City, two major evacuation centers are already crowded with evacuees.

“The Agusan National High School (ANHS) & Butuan Central Elementary School could no longer accept evacuees as it is full. The CDRRMC has newly activated evacuation centers in Alviola Elementary School & Ong Yiu Elementary School,” the PIA-Caraga said.

As of Sunday noon, January 19, there are at least 6,027 families staying in evacuation centers in Butuan City. Out of 86 villages in the city, Agaton is affecting 62, the PIA said.

Butuan mayor Ferdinand Amante also appealed the public to help families displaced by the flooding.

In Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte, the PDRRMC has already declared forced evacuation in the village of Del Pilar as the water level is rising.

Classes in all levels are also suspended in the entire province of Agusan del Norte on Monday, January 20.


Meanwhile in the province of Dinagat Islands, the village of Plaridel in Libjo and the village of Mabini in Tubajon are still isolated due to damaged bridges and overflowing rivers.

The Dinagat Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council initially distributed relief for 1,451 families staying in 56 evacuation centers in 42 affected villages.

Evacuees also increased in Afga Elementary School in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur where several areas were identified as landslide prone.

An uprooted tree also damaged a house in Purok Mabini, Barangay Afga. No casualties were reported in the incident.

The Davao-Agusan highway is also not accessible due to a landslide in the same village.

In Surigao del Sur, a landslide has paralyzed the national highway along Barangay Nurcia, Lanuza and is not passable to all types of vehicles, the military said.

A road going to the town of San Miguel along Barangay Badong in Tago is also not accessible due to a landslide which occurred on Sunday morning.

“DPWH is on road clearing at said area while volunteers and soldiers are providing assistance to the evacuees,” Caber said.

Caber added that preemptive evacuation was also enforced in the towns of Cantilan and Cortes and in Tandag City in Surigao del Sur.

The NDRRMC said at least 59 roads and 24 bridges are still not passable in Regions 8, 10, 11 and Caraga as of Monday morning.

Tropical Depression Agaton has damaged more or less P328 million worth of infrastructure and agricultural products and properties so far. – Rappler.com

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