Politics

Residents evacuated in Eastern Visayas, parts of Mindanao as new LPA brings more rain 

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PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD

FAMILIES continue to be evacuated in parts of Mindanao and the Eastern Visayas region as another low pressure area (LPA) has been dumping more rain in areas already swamped since late December.   

In Eastern Visayas — composed of the provinces of Leyte, Biliran, Southern Leyte, West Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar — the regional Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said “a big area… is experiencing flooding.”    

Among the areas where rescue and evacuation operations were conducted on Wednesday were the towns of Catubig in Northern Samar and Palo in Leyte, the OCD said.   

In the island province of Biliran, all eight towns have suspended classes in all levels for both public and private schools on Wednesday.   

In Zamboanga City, the local disaster management office reported that some 700 individuals have been evacuated as of 8:30 a.m.  

The city government also warned residents that the water level at the Pasonanca diversionary dam has reached the critical level of 76.5 meters.  

“People residing along river banks and low-lying areas are advised to take appropriate measures and to heed BDRRMC (Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) advisories to prevent loss of lives and properties,” it said.   

Mayor John M. Dalipe ordered a suspension of classes in all levels for both public and private schools.  

The Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative has also switched off supply lines in some 40 areas due to flooding.  

“Our troubleshooters, maintenance team, and backups are already on-site and currently coordinating with the barangay for clearance for the switch-on. This may take some time as other areas are still submerged in high levels of water,” the utility said.   

Tubod in Lanao del Norte has also canceled classes due to threats of flash floods and landslides. 

The low pressure area (LPA), the second this year, was located 575 kilometers east of Surigao City as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to weather bureau PAGASA’s bulletin.  

It was still “less likely” to strengthen into a tropical depression within the next 24 hours, but PAGASA weather forecaster Patrick Del Mundo said they “have not dismissed the possibility that it could develop into a typhoon in the coming days.”  

The LPA, the second this year, along with the continuing shear line, or where rain is formed when cold and warm air converge, were expected to bring light to intense rains in most parts of the Visayas and Mindanao as well as Bicol in Luzon.  

AID DISTRIBUTIONPresident Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., meanwhile, has ordered the release of more than P3 million for the repair of school buildings damaged by flash floods in Misamis Oriental, according to his office.   

He also directed housing authorities to find a resettlement area for residents whose houses were destroyed by flooding and landslides in late December, it added.   

“If the LGUs (local government units) can take the load, we can send you the three million plus immediately,” Mr. Marcos told a situation briefing in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, based on a press release from the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).    

A total of 63 classrooms were reported to have been damaged by heavy rains caused by the shear line, the PCO said, citing Mr. Marcos.  

“The President has instructed the Department of Public Works and Highways to expedite the repair of damaged infrastructure once the flooding has subsided,” it said.   

During the briefing, the local government of Gingoog reported that the number of affected families has risen to 18,452. Forty-five out of 59 barangays have been affected, it added.  

People residing in the coastal areas incurred the most damage, the Palace said.   

The President also ordered housing authorities to identify a housing relocation for affected residents, the PCO said in a separate statement.  

Once a relocation area is identified, the government will send building materials so people can start constructing new homes, Mr. Marcos said separately during the distribution of government assistance in Tudela town.  

“The President also sought to improve flood-control structures, which serve as the first line of defense against floods and overflowing rivers,” the PCO added. — Marifi S. Jara and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza