BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/24 February) – Some 2,800 families or 15,000 persons from 14 barangays here were evacuated by force on Saturday afternoon as the Agusan River overflowed, its water level rising nearly twice the normal level by early Sunday morning.
Bong Cathedral, operations officer of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) said the river’s water level peaked at 3.28 meters from the normal level of 1.7 meters at 1 a.m. Sunday, prompting authorities to issue alert level 3 or “Code Red” on Saturday afternoon.
The water level rose to 2.8 meters Friday morning and 3.2 meters by Saturday afternoon.
This was the second time in two months that a Code Red was issued. On January 10, authorities issued a Code Red when the water level reached 3.1 meters due to rains brought about by a Low Pressure Area.
While it rained on Friday, no rains were monitored Saturday and Sunday.
Cathedral explained that despite the absence of rain, the water level still rose because of the volume rampaging from Agusan del Sur and Cofrompostella Valley.
“This flooding is now the result of the rains that poured down on Agusan del Sur and Compostella Valley for several days since Typhoon Crising hit Mindanao. We issued alert level 3 or Code Re to the different barangay. This means forced evacuation. It’s the barangay officials’ job to see to it that their residents are warned about the situation but we heard that several families did not leave their homes,” said Cathedral.
Cathedral pointed out that on Saturday morning the floodwaters swept away one of the floating houses from the town of San Luis in Agusan del Sur.
“We have prepared our barangay networks in case they would need our help in the emergency rescue mission. Our rescuers from the Butuan Seach and Rescue Team (Busart) have been monitoring in case an emergency rescue is needed,” he said.
Cathedral added that even as the flood affected 6,100 families or 33,000 persons in 34 barangays, forced evacuation was done in only 14 barangays. .
“We did not evacuate from our flooded homes because we have been used to the floods. The highest we had was Friday evening when it reached our waist. But we are starting to get worried since we noticed that the water has continued to rise,” said Agapito Balbin, a farmer in Purok 18, Barangay Mahay.
Balbin and his neighbors worry over the rice crops they lost worth about six thousand pesos.
“We have a neighbor who lost almost thirty P30,000 worth. I’m not sure if after the floodwaters recede we will be able to plant again since we have already lost so much,” said Balbin.
Sigundina Jasmin, a mother of four from Purok 1, Barangay Mahay; shouted for food from across the flooded ricefields while paddling a dugout canoe.
“We are running out of food to eat, they said we won’t receive any aid if we won’t transfer to the evacuation center. I hope they would consider giving aid to those who did not evacuate since most of us here decided not to leave our homes,” she said. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)