GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Days of intermittent heavy rain caused flooding, made rivers swell, forced families to evacuate to safer grounds, and prompted several local governments to suspend classes in the Davao and Caraga regions as a weather system threatened to spawn more downpour on Monday, January 17.
Floods hit areas in Agusan del Sur in Caraga and in Davao de Oro in southern Mindanao following days of rain caused by a shear line.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the shear line may still trigger light to heavy rain.
Affected areas could include Agusan del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro, Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, and the cities of General Santos and Digos.
Davao de Oro Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy ordered the suspension of all classes in public and private schools in the province due to heavy rain since last weekend.
The province has seen its river system swelling, threatening to cause flooding and landslides.
But in some areas, it has been raining intermittently for a week now, prompting local governments to sound alarm bells to caution residents.
Monkayo Mayor Ramil Joanna Gentugaya said the local government decided to suspend classes in the Davao de Oro town on Monday as soon as PAGASA issued a yellow heavy rainfall warning.
Classes were also suspended in Nabunturan town in Davao de Oro, where it has been raining since Friday, January 14, according to Mayor Chelita Amatong.
Amatong said the town started preemptive evacuation in five flood- and landslide-prone barangays.
As of Sunday evening, January 16, Amatong said, they have already moved 500 residents to evacuation facilities and other temporary shelters, with social workers providing them “food, comfort, and wellness.”
Amatong said they advised leaders in the town’s 28 barangays to closely monitor the situation and resort to forced evacuations if necessary.
Rain since Sunday also caused flooding in barangays La Fortuna and Sampaguita in Veruela town in Agusan del Sur province, reported the Trento-based Brigada News FM station.
It said floodwaters submerged a portion of a highway in La Fortuna at 1 am on Monday, stranding travelers and motorists.
Floodwaters also forced several residents to flee their homes.
PAGASA forecaster Samuel Duran said the weather system affecting Mindanao is expected to weaken by Thursday, January 20, but the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan would continue to affect the rest of the country. – Rappler.com
Rommel Rebollido is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.