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Friday, July 1, 2011

Water level rose too quickly, Davao flood victims say



DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 June) – Most of the flashflood victims on Tuesday evening have a common story to tell:  "the water level rose too fast."
Meanwhile, the Office of the Civil Defense reported that as of 7:30 p.m. Thursday (June 30), two more bodies were recovered.  They were identified as Kent Angelo Taño, 9; and Cherry Saturos, 4.
The floods left 29 dead and 2 still missing – Mark Louie Falomar, 3 months old; and Zaly Supa, 34.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) reported that a total of 12,714 families have been affected by the floods, which damaged 264 houses, 50 of which totally destroyed.
The floods hit five barangays – Matina Pangi, Talomo, Matina Crossing 74-A, Matina Aplaya and Maa – Tuesday (June 28) evening. The water subsided around 4 o’clock the next morning.
Awing Albaracin, 42, told MindaNews that at 9 p.m., the water level had not yet reached the floor of his house, which was four feet above the ground.
He recounted that they did not evacuate because he never thought the water would rise that high. His house was about five meters away from the riverbank.
“In the past, when the water rises, it would not be over three feet,” he recalled.
When the water entered the Albaracins’ house around 11 p.m., he said he immediately evacuated his wife and six children to the nearby barangay hall of 74-A, about 100 meters away.
“When I went back to my house to get important documents, like birth certificates, the water was already seven feet deep. When I couldn’t find the documents, I tried to swim back to the barangay hall but I was carried away by the strong currents, and I was swept towards the river,” he said.
But he was able to hold on to the clothesline and swam towards the barangay hall. “We were not able to save anything from our house. We just picked up clothes that were washed away by the flood and washed them so that we have something to wear,” Albaracin added.
Ray Diabordo, 49, also recalled that around the same time, the water level rose so fast that they were not able to evacuate to higher grounds.
“My wife and I were taking care of our one-year-old nephew.  So we could not just easily wade through the floodwater because of the baby,” said Diabordo, a resident of Barangay Matina Aplaya.
When the water reached the floor, which was four feet high, he destroyed a portion of the roof so they could make it to the rooftop.
“Just a few minutes later, our house was already afloat and slowly drifted to a nearby house. And then we moved to our neighbor’s rooftop. Luckily, our neighbor’s house was not washed away,” he said.
Diabordo’s house used to stand 10 meters away from the riverbank, with its posts made of concrete.
Manuel Udtohan, 45, also noticed the water rising fast, but was quick enough to move to higher ground. His family opted to leave behind personal belongings to save themselves instead.  They watched the strong currents wash their house away.
Like the other flood victims who lost their houses, Udtohan said he will rebuild his house on the same spot. A carpenter himself, he plans to salvage still usable lumber washed away by the flood.
Jerry Lusong and his wife also saved no personal belongings as they prioritized saving their nine-year-old kid.
But his wife was also able to save their three-month old puppy that they just picked up from the street a week ago.  “I was wondering why my wife could not properly swim.  It turned out she was holding the puppy,” he recalled.
Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte caught the flood victims of Barangay 74-A by surprise when his chopper landed right at the clearing where dozens of houses used to stand.
He assured the victims that relief goods and financial assistance are to be released as soon as possible. He said the city council has approved the release of P51.5 million to assist flood victims. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)

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