NoCot flash floods kill 2; 12k residents displaced by calamity in Maguindanao

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PAGALUNGAN, Maguindanao – Torrential rains spawned by recent weather disturbances in Mindanao have triggered flash floods in North Cotabato and Maguindanao the past days.

In Maguindanao, more than 12,000 residents were forced to evacuate after the Kabaan river and Malitubog-Maridagao rivers overflowed and the water inundated residential areas in Pagalungan and nearby Montawal, also in Maguindanao, and Pikit in North Cotabato.

Displaced families, mostly Moro people, are now staying in makeshift homes beside the national highway linking Cotabato and Davao cities.

Pagalungan, the most affected towns in Maguindanao, sits beside the Liguasan marsh, vast wetlands encompassing three provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat and served as “catch basin” of flood waters from Agusan and Kabacan Rivers.

Pagalungan Mayor Salik Mamasabulod of Pagalungan was stunned to realize the floods had been with them for almost a week now.“All our 11 villages are underwater, this is the worst flood that hit my town since I was a child,” Mayor Mamasabulod said.

“Worst, it came when we do not experience rain here but there,” he said, pointing to the mountains of Bukidnon and North Cotabato.“We need flood control projects here, I hope our regional and national government can help us,” he said.

In Makilala, North Cotabato, rampaging water taking along forest debris like logs, coconut trunks, even stones, cut through the Bulatukan River and almost destroyed s concrete bridge Monday afternoon, according to North Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco.

And on Tuesday, two residents were drowned Tuesday in floodwaters that flowed downstream through Bulatukan river following heavy rains on the slopes of Mt. Apo.

A village hit by foods in Makilala town.

Only one of the two fatalities was identified. She was Edzel Lanzon Gudmalin, a resident of Barangay Bulatukan.

Their remains found one after another by emergency responders downstream covered by debris washed away by floodwaters.

Accompanied by provincial engineers, Catamco set foot on the most affected village beside the Bulatukan River – Sitio Kalye Putol, Barangay Bulatukan.

She vowed to extend assistance to affected families and to provide them with building materials to rebuild their flood-damaged homes.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao (MAFAR-BARMM) reported that more than 200 hectares of land have been submerged by the floods.

Assessment of the cost of damages to agriculture is still on-going. The aid of food packs and safe drinking water with medicine had been pouring for the displaced families from the BARMM regional government.

Vice Mayor Abdillah Mamasabulod said parents continue to help their children go through modular learning while in temporary shelters beside the highway.

“Modular learning continues even in evacuation sites, this is good because parents still prioritize education despite the calamity,” he said.-Edwin O. Fernandez

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