Ilocos provinces ask help for river dredging as solution to worsening floods
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — During a situation briefing with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at Ilocos Norte Capitol on Saturday, July 29, the provincial governments of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, both hit hardest by supertyphoon Egay (international name: Doksuri), appealed to the national government for help with river dredging and drainage systems.
Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc said that Egay caused rivers to overflow and forced rescue operations in critical areas in the city of Laoag, where at least 90 individuals were trapped in Sitio Lusong in Barangay 29, Nuestra Sra. De Soledad, Nuestra Sra. De Consolacion, San Francisco, Cavit, Zamboanga, Tangid, Gabu Norte, Camanggaan, and Cabungaan.
Although living in a coastal community, Jessica Lucas, 29, of Gabu Norte village, said during an interview that she and her family have never experienced flood waters suddenly rising to chest-deep levels after two days of non-stop intense rains.
Manotoc said that it was “miraculous” that many lives were spared after an “extremely burdensome” rescue operation on Wednesday night (July 26) when many residents did not expect flood waters to suddenly rise due to spilling rivers and dams.
“Laoag especially needs a long-term solution. I think one thing we need to look at of course is the dredging of river systems [and] the drainage, I hope we can work with the Department of Public Works and Highways with this,” said Manotoc.
In December last year, a dredging project began at the Padsan River to reduce siltation and improve its flood-carrying capacity. Spanning 73.10 kilometers, the river is the largest in the province.
Ilocos Sur Governor Jeremias Singson also echoed the appeal of Manotoc, saying that all “[infra] developments will go to waste if our rivers will not be dredged.”
The province has virtually become a catch basin, experiencing intensified flash floods in recent years because of the increasing volume of rainwater coming from the mountains.
“With the volume of water coming down, our rivers have gone flat and silted. This is why water comes to the farms and towns. The crops and houses are washed out. So we need to dredge our rivers,” Singson lamented.
Egay left the country on Thursday, but rains continued to pour until Saturday due to the southwest monsoon that it enhanced.
According to data presented at the briefing on Saturday, the typhoon affected 139,324 families or 600,152 individuals in the Ilocos region.