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BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – Just over a week since parts of Caraga were submerged in floodwaters, authorities have ordered preemptive evacuations again amid renewed concerns of flooding and landslides due to heavy rain.
Liza Mazo, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Caraga chief, said in a phone interview that there should be no room for complacency.
“We should have learned the lesson last week when we were complacent because there was only rain due to the shear line, and there was no typhoon, but it turned out there was extreme flooding,” Mazo said.
“Let us warn our communities that this shear line, trough of the LPA, or amihan are not typhoons, but they bring strong winds and heavy rain. So, the residents in the lower areas, especially in flood-prone areas along riversides and hillsides, should evacuate,” she added.
Mazo added that the land is already saturated due to the severe flooding last week, so evacuation is necessary.
She said they have received reports of flooding and landslides in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur, and some local government units have already done preemptive evacuation since Tuesday, January 31.
OCD-Caraga is on blue alert status, which means half of the disaster officials are on standby to ensure that there will be enough manpower in case of an emergency.
Work, classes suspended
In Agusan del Sur, the towns of Bunawan, La Paz, Prosperidad, Sta Josefa, Talacogon, Loreto, and San Luis suspended classes from January 31 until further notice for both private and public schools at all levels.
The municipalities of San Francisco, Trento, Rosario, and Veruela have suspended both classes and work in government offices.
The Agusan River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning Center said that the trough of the low pressure area has brought a significant amount of rainfall over the Agusan River basin since Tuesday.
“Flooding and rain-induced landslides are still expected in areas that received a significant amount of rainfall since yesterday, and rising water levels along Agusan River and tributary rivers are still expected during the forecast period,” the advisory said.
the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Caraga said that they sent 5,100 family food packs to Bunawan on Tuesday for displaced families.
Landslide, no sail
The Department of Public Works and Highways 2nd District Engineering Office in Surigao del Sur reported that the bridge along the Trento-Bislig road is only passable for one lane after heavy rain on Tuesday caused a landslide.
The office also advised that the bypass road in Tagbina, Surigao del Sur, is not passable for light vehicles due to extreme flooding.
The Philippine Coast Suard stations in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Dinagat Island have suspended voyages for all vessels and watercraft with a gross tonnage of 250 and below plying the route within their area or responsibility.
In the latest advisory of PAGASA, the trough of LPA may continue to bring a significant amount of rain to Caraga within the next three days. – Rappler.com
Ivy Marie Mangadlao is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.