Residents living near rivers urged to seek safer areas
by Rachelle M. Nessia
Dumaguete City (12 February) -- The local weather bureau is urging residents living nearby riverbanks or sloped areas to seek refuge in safe areas to avoid disaster in case another flash flood hits the province.
Chief Meteorological Officer Edsin Culi of PAGASA here said those living near bodies of water and inclined places should be on the alert and prepare to leave their homes once prolonged heavy rainfall start occurring.
Flash floods brought on by continuous heavy rainfall battered several areas in Negros Oriental on February 7, leaving five people dead and three missing.
More than 400 houses were also reported damaged or washed out by the surge of flood waters, leaving hundreds of residents homeless.
Culi said the heavy rains on February 7 was not caused by a tropical cyclone but a low pressure area that was earlier monitored in North eastern Mindanao the day before.
The local weather bureau chief related that he tried to drive around the streets of Dumaguete City on the afternoon of February 7 but saw the roads were not visible as roiling waters flooded the city streets, blocking traffic and leaving people stranded.
The water level rose to reach his car engine and when he reached the downtown area, Culi saw people wading through knee-length water.
Worried for his aging mother, he endured the surge of water and drove to his mother's two-storey house along Colon Extension. "When I got there, the first floor of the house was already filled with water. I had to carry my mother up to the second floor," he said.
Afterwards, Culi drove on to check on the houses nearby Banica River, which has swelled and overflowed. "I saw families evacuating their homes there. They were pushing their way through the water that has risen up to their waistline," he recalled.
Up in Bag-ong Taytayan area, Culi saw a house submerged in the flood and home appliances floating in rampant waters.
Residents living near rivers need to transfer to safe places, Culi stressed.
He added that PAGASA will continue monitoring the prevailing low pressure area spotted in Mindanao. (PIA/rmn) [top]