CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Local chief executives in flood-devastated areas in the Bangsamoro and Zamboanga Peninsula regions moved to put their territories under a state of calamity as Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (Nalgae) brought rampaging floodwaters, death, and destruction in many communities in Mindanao.
A state of calamity declaration would allow the local governments to spend their reserved funds to provide relief aid to devastated communities. The official declarations, however, need the approval of local legislatures.
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim declared the entire region under a state of calamity on Saturday, October 29, due to the extent of damages caused by Paeng.
Ebrahim said at least 10 Maguindanao towns and Cotabato City were devastated as a result of heavy rain, flooding, and landslides since Friday, October 28.
BARMM Minister of the Interior and Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo said some roads were impassable and sources of potable water supply in some areas were contaminated.
One of the hardest-hit areas in the region is the new province of Maguindanao del Norte.
Sinarimbo said the affected communities’ immediate needs were food and water.
BARMM’s regional center, Cotabato City, saw nearly 40 of its barangays devastated by floodwaters.
Cotabato Mayor Bruce Matabalao said city hall counted 67,596 inundated households in 37 villages.
Matabalao said the flooding also forced more than 2,000 people to flee their homes to seven evacuation centers in Cotabato City since Friday.
He said the Cotabato City Council would convene and likely green-light the declaration of a state of calamity in the city.
In Zamboanga City, Mayor John Dalipe and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council pushed for the declaration of a state of calamity after the storm spawned flooding and caused destruction in some 42 of its barangays since Friday.
Zamboanga councilors were set on meeting to tackle the recommendation of the Dalipe-chaired council.
The Zamboanga city government said at least four people were declared missing in the flood that inundated the homes of some 3,000 families in 42 barangays.
Zamboanga officials also listed the following 21 barangays that were worst-hit by flooding:
- San Roque
- Santa Maria
- San Jose Gusu
- Rio Hondo
Entire families evacuated to safer grounds as continuous rain resulted in flooding in several dozen villages.
Zamboanga’s City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said some 300 families were affected in the village of Manicahan alone as of Friday night.
In Barangay Ayala, evacuation centers were set up in a gymnasium, a school, and a church for more than 1,300 people.
In some areas, Zamboanga’s rescue teams used rubber boats to bring stranded families to safer grounds as rampaging floodwaters rose, toppled trees, and destroyed properties such as in the hard-hit village of San Jose Gusu. – Rappler.com