01 July 2011

The Deadly Flood in Davao City

Davao City Flood
The country is beset right now with several interesting news reports about the sports utility vehicles that the Catholic bishops and priests received from the previous administration, same-sex marriage performed for several couples in Baguio, Chinese harassment of claimant countries in Spratly’s Island and the much-hyped game between the Azkals and the Sri Lankan soccer team that ended in a draw.

However, there is one news report that many are not aware of or were given less importance despite its deadly magnitude. This is the report about the flash flood in Davao City last Tuesday night (28 June 2011) that claimed at least 30 people.

Flooding may be a common occurrence in the country right now, but what made this particular flood in Davao City more disastrous is that it took away the lives of at least 14 children. The youngest among these fatalities is a nine-month-old boy.

The rampaging flood caused the overflow of the Matina Pangi river that affected five barangays and displaced 12,410 families, 1,475 of them in evacuation centers. Many of those who were killed lived in the riverbanks and even in portions of the Pangi riverbed or under the bridge. Majority of the residents were asleep when the rains poured.

According to Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, historically, what usually swells is the Talomo River, not the Pangi River. The later, he said, had actually dried up that’s why some residents built huts in portions of the riverbed. He said the settlers had been warned several times to vacate the area but refused.

Duterte, who was a flood victim several times in the 1990s when he was still a resident of Bangkal, said the rainfall, “in a matter of three hours was the equivalent of two months” normal rainfall.

A state of calamity has been declared in barangays Matina Pangi, Talomo, Matina Crossing 74-A, Matina Aplaya and Maa. Classes were also suspended in the affected barangays.

The children who died and were identified are as follows:
  • Baby boy Chris Alvarez
  • Alexis Baricuatro, 4
  • Alexandria Baricuatro, 7
  • John Carlo Alvarez, 3
  • John Michael Alvarez, 7
  • Beth Amatos, 7
  • Kenneth Ian Ayag, 4
  • Carl Andre Olivares, 9 months old
  • Jason Saturos, 2
  • Cassandra Supa, 2
  • Melchin Sorenio, 3
  • Rowena Valderosa
A dead boy and a girl remained unidentified at this time.

Do we need to blame somebody for the absence of any warning whatsoever? I don't think so. The local government units gave the residents all the warning that they need short of bodily hauling them to the relocation sites. The national government was also caught by surprise because of the freakish way the rain continously drop large volume of water.

Do we need to do something about it? Definitely. Forcing the illegal settlers out of the danger zone should be the first priority. No excuses should be entertained and no amount of appeal needs any attention. Carry them out if it comes to that. Just get them out of there whether they like it or not. Think about the social services later.