Floods displace 98,000 in Mindanao

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RESCUERS use motorized boats to rescue children trapped in the middle of a flooded rice field in M’lang, North Cotabato. WILLIAMOR A. MAGBANUA/INQUIRER MINDANAO

DIGOS CITY – At least 98,000 people have been displaced by floods in several Mindanao provinces, prompting one governor to push for dredging as a solution.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Tuesday that floods swept through low-lying towns of Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Davao del Norte.

Tropical Depression “Emong” brought relentless rains in the areas, said Eduardo del Rosario, council executive director.

The flooding in Maguindanao is being blamed on heavy siltation in Liguasan Marsh.

Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said the solution would be to dredge the marsh’s tributaries. He said the rivers of Maguindanao are heavily silted due to soil erosion.

He said this is the reason that the provincial government is studying the purchase of a P90-million dredger.

“This is better than always spending for relief assistance,” the governor said. He said, however, that the provincial board has to pass a resolution allowing the equipment’s purchase.

At least 12 tributaries pass through Maguindanao and draw water from Liguasan Marsh, the 220,000-hectare wetland that the province shares with North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

The 7,142-square-kilometer Maguindanao is made up mainly of lowlands and is quickly flooded when the marsh overflows.

“We dredge, we plant and we relax,” Mangudadatu said.

Worst hit by the floods are the Maguindanao towns of Pagalungan and Datu Montawal, where floodwater is still knee-deep.

Children going to school ended up cleaning their classrooms as the floods left a thick carpet of mud.

In Kabacan, North Cotabato, clean-up activities had been completed but classes can’t resume yet.

Cynthia Ortega, action officer of the provincial disaster risk reduction management council in North Cotabato, said at least five towns and 23 villages in the province were flooded. Many displaced families have returned home, she said. Floods were also reported in Alabel, Sarangani.

The regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has allotted P500,000 for relief goods and distribution through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Abubakar Saidin, a resident of Pagalungan, said it was his sixth time to experience floods this year alone.

“You know this is a recurring problem unless the government takes appropriate action,” Saidin said.

In Braulio Dujali town in Davao del Norte, authorities sent doctors and other health workers to an evacuation center where more than 100 families have sought shelter from the flooding.

Sonio Sanchez, provincial disaster action officer, said the flooding was caused by the overflowing of Tuganay River.

The river burst its banks due to heavy rains, according to Sanchez. However, Sanchez said, the evacuees have started returning to their homes when the floods began to subside.

Children who had been to the evacuation centers are suffering from fever, colds and cough, though, according to authorities. Alan Nawal, Edwin O. Fernandez, Jeoffrey Maitem, Frinston L. Lim, Inquirer Mindanao

 

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