Quick response saves lives; most evacuees back home

Troops from the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army assist residents during an evacuation. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Troops from the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army assist residents during an evacuation in Barangay Alegria in Cateel town. PHOTO COURTESY OF 67th IB

DAVAO ORIENTAL — The Provincial Government is on top of the situation in the emergency response in the towns badly affected by rain-induced landslides and flashfloods brought about by the tail-end of a cold front.

The Provincial Government, which has activated its Incident Command System on Monday, is closely coordinating with the municipalities and barangays to address urgent gaps and concerns.

Incident Commander, Freddie C. Bendulo, said the calamity has prompted all concerned agencies to mobilize teams to appropriately respond to the needs of the people. He said the Provincial Government has been constantly monitoring the situation in the barangays and municipalities through their respective Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils.  

Incident Commander Freddie Bendulo presides over an emergency meeting together with Vice Governor Niño Uy

Incident Commander Freddie Bendulo presides over an emergency meeting together with Vice Governor Niño Uy

As of today, January 25, 2017, a total of 12,000 food packs from the Provincial Government have already been transported to Cateel town and have been handed over to the evacuees in different barangays. More relief goods are set to be transported to other affected towns as volunteers continue to swarm the command post to help pack relief goods.

Cpt. Ronnel Legard, Civil-Military Operations Officer of the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, said that they have already transported displaced families back to their homes in Cateel town as the Municipal Incident Command Post declared it safe for them to return home. 

Packing of relief  goods at the Incident Command Post

Packing of relief goods at the Incident Command Post

The Municipality of Cateel has also lifted the suspension of classes at all levels.

Heavy equipment which were earlier deployed has helped in the clearing operations in the affected areas as incidents of flooding and landslides have been reported.

The Provincial Government is also closely monitoring all vital public infrastructures, particularly the Cateel Irrigation System in Barangay Aragon in Cateel town.

As of the latest report, water level at the dam is at 18.8 meters. Engr. John Christopher Alagallar of the Provincial Engineer’s Office said the water level is below the critical level. “Rains have stopped but we are still continuously monitoring the water,” he said. Rescue teams are on standby and readily available in case an alarm is raised.

Teams from the National Irrigation Authority and the Office of Civil Defense are set to visit the province tomorrow to inspect the dam and assess the general situation in the affected areas.

Since a series of heavy downpour last week, four deaths in the towns of Cateel, Caraga and the City of Mati were reported, mainly due to drowning in flashfloods. 

Gov. Dayanghirang met with local officials of Cateel town to assess situation in the affected areas

Gov. Dayanghirang met with local officials of Cateel town to assess situation in the affected areas

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, who had earlier visited the affected towns in the East Coast, urged the residents to closely coordinate with the authorities and to cooperate with them. He urged the residents to heed on advisories and take precautions amid the continuous heavy downpour.

The Governor thanked all partners of the Provincial Government in the emergency response. He said he is pleased with the collaboration of all stakeholders. He cited the swift action of all local government units that have been addressing the needs and gaps as quickly as they can. “We in the Provincial Government will continue to assist the local government units and will coordinate with the national agencies to address the concerns of the people,” he said.

Hailing a quick response by the municipal local government units to residents’ distress call, the Governor have also stressed the need to address the people’s long-term needs, especially its livelihood as most of the victims depend on farming and fishing as their source of income. “Anticipating the aftermath, we need to make sound plans for rehabilitation as early as now,” he said. To date, agencies from the national government have been starting to layout plans to address long-term requirements of the affected residents.

Over the past few weeks, Davao Oriental, along with other provinces have experienced continuous heavy rains that caused floods and landslides, damaging properties, crops, homes and other infrastructures. By Karen Lou Deloso

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