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3 mayors feuding over flood control

/ 12:05 AM August 17, 2016
DANGEROUS ACT A man takes a huge gamble passing over a flood-swept steel-matted bridge in Candon City, Ilocos Sur province, after monsoon rains engulfed the city for a few days. LEONCIO BALBIN JR./CONTRIBUTOR

DANGEROUS ACT A man takes a huge gamble passing over a flood-swept steel-matted bridge in Candon City, Ilocos Sur province, after monsoon rains engulfed the city for a few days. LEONCIO BALBIN JR./CONTRIBUTOR

MINALIN, Pampanga—Three mayors were at loggerheads on Tuesday when they took different approaches to easing or preventing floods in their towns.

Mayor John Sambo of Sto. Tomas stopped personnel deployed by Mayor Edwin Santiago of the neighboring City of San Fernando from pumping out water from the city’s villages of San Juan, Sto. Niño and San Pedro and the capitol compound. He said he feared that Sto. Tomas would suffer once the water was directed toward the San Fernando-Sto. Tomas-Minalin tail dike.

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Village leaders said the floodwaters should be pumped out because San Fernando River neared its spilling level.

San Fernando, the capital of Pampanga, has been dealing with floods since Aug. 12 as water from eastern Sto. Tomas kept flowing back to the city.

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In Minalin, Mayor Edgar Flores closed the check gates of the tail dike, preventing water flowing out of Sto. Tomas and San Fernando from draining toward Sapang Labuan, now the drainer of Gugu River.

Overspill prevention

Big concrete slabs for a bridge project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have blocked the flow of water. The contractor was not on site, but the provincial government put two backhoes on barges to move silt, drain the water out toward the towns of Guagua and Sasmuan, and prevent an overspill in the Minalin village of Sta. Catalina and Betis village in Guagua.

Vice Gov. Dennis Pineda, head of the Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), gathered the feuding mayors to a meeting to come up with a unified measure to mitigate floods.

Several portions of the tail dike, which were scoured by heavy rains, have been plugged with sand bags. DPWH contractors were asked to restore the damaged sections of the dike.

Forty-seven villages in Bulacan and Pampanga remained flooded on Tuesday, according to the Central Luzon Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. At least 709 families (2,948 people) stayed in 26 evacuation centers.

Two men drowned in Bulacan, according to the council.

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Rufino Lozada, 74, of San Ildefonso town, was carried away by strong current in Maasim River as he brought his carabao to higher grounds. Joseph Cepeda, 18, of Sta. Maria town, was swept away by water from a swollen creek.

Injuries, losses

On Tuesday, three people suffered serious injuries from electrocution when they put up a clothesline inside their home in San Juan village in Lubao town. They were identified as Leonardo Parungao, Chandler dela Cruz and Marielle Pantig.

Monsoon floods destroyed palay planted in around 2,000 hectares of rice fields, with officials estimating the losses at P15.6 million, the PDRRMC said.

In Pangasinan province, 49 villages in six towns and Dagupan City have been flooded, prompting rescue officials to evacuate at least 59 families.

On Tuesday, the water level of Sinocalan River, one the major river systems, was recorded at 2.68 meters (8.8 feet), or 1.16 meters (3.8 feet) above the normal level. The river traverses the towns of Santa Barbara, Calasiao and Dagupan.

A wall in an elementary school in Barangay Bonuan Binloc in Dagupan collapsed due to floodwaters. Also underwater were the towns of Binmaley, Agno, Bugallon and Lingayen.

Binga Dam in Benguet province discharged water toward Agno River to ease pressure on its reservoir, according to Onofre Ponce, principal engineer of National Power Corp. (Napocor).

As of 9 a.m. on Tuesday, three of the dam’s spillway gates were raised by half a meter, spilling water at 245 cubic meters per second. One cubic meter is equivalent to 1,000 liters or five drums of water per second.

The dam can accommodate water up to 575 meters above sea level (masl). At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, its water level reached 573.32 masl, or 1.68 meters below its spilling level.

Agno River traverses 16 Pangasinan towns and cities before exiting to Lingayen Gulf.

Water spilled from Binga Dam flows downstream to San Roque Dam in San Manuel town in Pangasinan. At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, water level at the San Roque Dam was 235.68 masl, or 44.32 meters below its peak level of 280 masl. With a report from Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Flood, flood-control, Luzon, mayor, Pampanga
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