4,000 flee as floods hit Negros Oriental, OccidentalBy Alex V. Pal, Connie E. Fernandez
DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Philippines — At least 4,000 persons were forced to leave their homes after floods hit one city and three towns in Negros Oriental’s third district due to incessant rains since Friday.
Floods also affected more than 1,000 persons in three cities and four towns in southern Negros Occidental.
Worst hit in Negros Oriental was Bayawan City where flood waters reached more than the average person’s height and where many residents were believed to have been trapped on the rooftops of their homes since Saturday night.
As of 1 p.m. on Sunday, strong rains continued to pound Bayawan City, which had been without power since Sunday dawn.
Most rescue groups from Dumaguete City and neighboring towns, including troops from the Philippine Army, had to take rubber boats from the Negros Oriental State University (Norsu) Bayawan campus in Barangay Carranoche, some five kilometers from the city proper, as the floodwaters remained impassable by vehicles.
Two Army helicopters were dispatched from Cebu to assist in the rescue operations.
Also affected by floods were the towns of Sta. Catalina, Basay and Siaton, said Allen Froilan Cabaron, Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Negros Oriental coordinator.
He said 78 families were affected in Siaton and six in Basay. The OCD-Negros Oriental had yet to get the number of affected families in Sta. Catalina.
He added there was no reported casualty although there were unconfirmed reports that the elderly died in Bayawan due to an illness.
Cabaron said the floods were triggered by heavy rains since Friday that caused Bayawan River to overflow. The situation was also aggravated by the high tide.
When the level started to rise on Saturday, he added, some residents decided to leave their homes and move to safer ground.
Badly affected were the nine barangays in Bayawan – Banga, Poblacion, Maninihon, Villareal, Tuba, Ubos, Pagatban, Kalumboyan and Nangka.
More than 4,000 persons temporarily stayed in the gym (500), elementary school in Pagatban (50), Bayawan National High School (2,523), Norsu (350), Integrated Business Center (1,000) and elementary school in Maninihon (20).
Cabaron said the number would likely rise since some residents were trapped on the rooftops of their homes.
Rescue groups had difficulty getting into Bayawan either due to the floods or the landslides that blocked the road leading to the affected area.
One of these was the mounds of earth that blocked the highway in Sta. Catalina town, which is next to Bayawan.
In the meantime, hundreds of residents were also evacuated in Negros Occidental after heavy rains since Saturday night also triggered floods in three southern cities and four towns.
Affected were the cities of Sipalay, Kabankalan and Himamaylan and towns of Don Salvador Benedicto, Hinobaan, Isabela and Ilog, according to the Provincial Disaster Management (PDM).
Provincial Social Welfare Officer Liane Gracia said the total number of evacuees reached 1,010.
According to Rep. Mercedes Alvarez of Negros Occidental’s 6th district, some residents who had refused to leave their homes were picked up by speedboats because the Ilog-Hilabangan River in Ilog town was rising.
The water in the river had risen above a protective dike causing flooding in Barangay (village) Andulauan, she said. With reports filed by Carla P. Gomez and Carmel Matus, Inquirer Visayas