Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia ordered the immediate desiltation in the major rivers of Balamban and Tuburan towns as an immediate measure to avoid a repeat of the massive flooding that happened this week.
She inspected the rivers in Cambado, Balamban; Languyon, Tuburan; and Guinabasan, Asturias on Friday. These rivers overflowed on December 1 and 2, causing the flooding in vast tracks of residential and agricultural lands in these towns.
Danao City also experienced massive flooding which resulted in a single death.
"We cannot have the same situation unya mokalit na pud og bul-og ang tubig. Nakita bitaw nato nga heavily silted na kay nada na gud to gikan pa sa bukid. We have to desilt immediately," Garcia told reporters after she turned over relief assistance to affected families in Tuburan for her last stop Friday.
She will meet with Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 Director Edgar Tabacon and 3rd Engineering District Engineer Daisy Toledo together with the Provincial Engineer on Wednesday, December 9, to discuss details for the joint dredging activity.
Garcia said the Province can offer to help in the dredging beyond the 1-kilometer area from the bridge, which is under the jurisdiction of the DPWH.
"Immediate desiltation mao gyud ang importante before we can move on to the repair of those slope protection nga structures which is the DPWH nga concern," Garcia said.
Garcia said she is arranging a meeting with Tabacon to discuss thoroughly "on where we could possibly enter a memorandum of agreement nga motabang ang Province kay we know the national (DPWH) man gud hampered by the availability of budget kay wa naman na masud sa karon (2020 budget) unya taas kaayo ang process."
"We are ready to help kay the Provincial Government has available resources," she added.
Garcia said the meeting will also identify where to pool available equipment that will be used for the dredging activities, while also looking at tapping private contractors to provide equipment such as dredging machines and backhoe.
"I think dunay contractor nga naay dredger available or kung naa ba ang DPWH 7," she said adding that this can be through a gratuity arrangement.
Toledo, for her part, said one of the reasons that they are agreeable to the proposal of the governor was that the Cambado River is already shallow all the way to the mouth of the river towards the sea.
"Puno gyud ang bank to bank, kung deeper pa unta to di unta siya kaawas. So mao na atong immediate nahunahunaan kay dali siya buhaton, dili kaayo kinahanglan og so much money kay mahimo man nga gratuitous. Pwedi mag MOA si LGU (local government unit) with contractor nga naa equipment unya ayudahan sa equipment sa DPWH," Toledo said.
The situation is also similar in Ginabasan River and Languyon River which are all heavily silted.
"Kana nga action is to address silted rivers mao na mag-desiltation ta, mag-remove ta sa deposits sa river to deepen the river," she further explained.
As of Thursday, December 3 night, around 2,000 families in 20 barangays of Tuburan were affected by the flooding, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office head Richard Hernandez said.
Initial estimated damage to infrastructure is P40 million and agriculture at P15 million, he added.
Initial reports from the barangays identified houses, schools and two footbridges that were destroyed while damage to crops include banana, rice and corn.
Hernandez said the rise in the water level could be because Tuburan's main river could no longer hold the amount of water it was getting from several tributaries.
"Ang Tuburan man gud kun makita ninyo sa mapa, bottleneck siya, grabe kaayo ang tributaries niya dili lang 20 ka barangays, ug kay bottleneck man ang lutsanan gamay kaayo so nialburuto," he said.
They are also verifying reports that a tornado was seen in the boundary of Danao and Tuburan.
Gloria Jacolbe, 61, who is a resident of Barangay 8, the worst-hit barangay in Tuburan, said it was around 8 in the morning of Tuesday when it started to rain.
She said she then heard a loud thunder and a lightning but ignored these and continued washing their clothes.
An hour later, she heard another loud rumbling sound then the water was suddenly knee-deep until it got deeper.
Two hours later, a backhoe rescued them from their house which was already submerged while Philippine Army personnel tied ropes to trees to rescue other residents in the area and brought them to evacuation centers.
Jacolbe said they were shocked when the water rose so fast.
"Lipak (lightning) ra man, wa jud hangin mam," she narrated.
Meanwhile, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) Head Marivic Garces said they are still waiting for the Provincial Board resolution that will allow the governor to extend financial assistance to the affected family of the lone fatality in the Danao flooding.
Garces said the heavily affected areas were Tuburan, Asturias and Danao City.
On Thursday, PSWDO already distributed three truckloads of goods to the affected families consisting of rice, corned beef, sardines, toyo, vinegar and laundry soap.
Based on PSWDO records, there are 137 affected families in Asturias, 24 in Danao City and six in Balamban. (Vanessa L. Almeda)