Tropical Depression “Crising” scraped Mindanao’s bottom as it headed toward southern Palawan Tuesday, but nonstop heavy rains since the day before caused rivers to swell and submerge many communities.
Hundreds of families all over Mindanao were moved to higher ground to escape neck-deep floodwaters in some areas.
Reports of casualties were not immediately available, but the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said two persons were injured in a landslide in Lanao del Norte province.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, weathermen spotted Crising at 80 kilometers southwest of General Santos City, with winds of 45-60 km per hour. It is expected to be 250 km west of Zamboanga City Wednesday afternoon and 500 km southwest of Puerto Princesa City Thursday afternoon.
Crising is expected to bring five to 15 millimeters of rainfall, which the NDRRMC described as “moderate to heavy,” within a 300 km diameter.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration hoisted Signal No. 1 over southern Palawan, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, Sarangani, Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
30 canceled flights
Bad weather forced the cancellation of a total of 30 flights originating at airports in Manila and key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao.
These included 16 from Cebu Pacific, eight from Air Philippines Express, four from Philippine Airlines, and two from Zest Airways, said the Manila International Airport Authority, state operator of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
The flights were bound for or coming from the cities of Pagadian, Dipolog, Ozamiz, Cotabato, Surigao and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao; and the cities of Cebu, Tagbilaran and Dumaguete in central Visayas.
Mary Ann Dimabayao, Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) public affairs manager, said three flights were diverted to Cebu—an Air Philippines flight from Manila to Ozamis City and Cebu Pacific flights from Manila to Cagayan de Oro and from Zamboanga to Cagayan de Oro.
Some boat trips from Cebu were also suspended because of big waves.
In Sapad, Lanao del Norte, Maria Nacua, 20, and Dodong Nacua, 8, were hurt when a landslide swamped their house in Barangay (village) Malasalug, the NDRRMC said. They were taken to Lanao del Norte Provincial Hospital.
In Baganga, Davao Oriental, residents of the low-lying village of Saoquegue were evacuated to high ground after the river overflowed. In some areas, floodwaters were neck-deep, Fr. Darwey Clark, parish priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Baganga, said in a phone interview.
Some of the evacuees were taken to the barangay center, Clark said.
In Tarragona town, also in Davao Oriental, at least three families were rescued when their homes in Barangay Kabagayan were flooded after the Bagwan River overflowed.
In Davao del Sur, Roderick Milana, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said three villages in Sta. Maria town were flooded when a river dike collapsed due to rampaging floodwaters.
Noraflor Lague, municipal social welfare officer, said at least four low-lying barangays were flooded even before Crising came. According to Pagasa, Crising made landfall on the southern tip of Davao del Sur around 1 p.m., but residents said they only experienced light to moderate rains.
Nearby General Santos City also did not experience strong winds and heavy rains Tuesday afternoon.
In Caraga town, the river also swelled, making a bridge impassable, Clark said.
At least 40 families were displaced In Sapad town in Lanao del Norte when the river overflowed, said Annabel Mendez, provincial social welfare officer.
Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy ordered the preemptive evacuation of hundreds of families in Compostela and New Bataan towns as the province braced for yet another storm after last December’s devastating Typhoon “Pablo.”
Raul Villocino, provincial disaster officer, said local disaster teams were put on standby while rubber boats and other rescue equipment were dispatched to Compostela town in the event of another flooding.
In nearby New Bataan, families were again forced to flee to safe grounds.
Classes in the elementary level were suspended in many areas of the province, according to officials.
In Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte called off classes in preschools up to high schools, and left it to school authorities and employers to decide whether to suspend classes in colleges and postgraduate levels.
Communities along the Davao River were placed on alert as the river continued to swell.—Reports from Nico Alconaba, Germelina Lacorte, Frinston L. Lim, Richel V. Umel and Orlando Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao; Nikko Dizon and Jerome Aning in Manila; and Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas