SHARIFF AGUAK,Maguindanao: Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and disaster response teams from Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces on Friday rescued 60 people, among them pregnant women and children, who were trapped by rising flood waters in a roadside village.
The floodwaters reached the national highway linking the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato, particularly between Datu Montawal town in Maguindanao and Kabacan of North Cotabato, submerging houses and communities.
Some 6,000 displaced families were forced to camp at the roadside with their valuables while helplessly watching their homes being engulfed by floodwaters.
Jovito Sacafuri of the North Cotabato Emergency Response Team said they evacuated the residents to safer grounds from their houses in Barangay Malabuaya, Kabacan as flood waters rose.
Myrna Jo Henry, spokesperson of the Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (HEART-ARMM) said they rescued 10 families trapped by floodwaters at Sitio Baytunina in Barangay Butig, Datu Montawal.
Henry said about 2,000 families in Datu Montawal were moved to the sides of the national highway in Barangay Bulit and Pagagawan after the water level rose to neck-high on Thursday night.
Badria Sulayman, a resident of Malabuaya in Kabacan, said it was the first time she experienced such a sudden rise of flood waters here. She has been a resident of the agricultural town for several years.
“The water reached up to our neck, luckily the soldiers and men in orange uniforms arrived,” Sulayman said, referring to the rescue team.
Henry, speaking for HEART-ARMM, said the floods affected some 16,145 families in eight municipalities of Lanao del Sur and more than 8,000 families in two flood-prone areas in Maguindanao.
She said the floods affected several villages in two Maguindanao towns – 11 in Datu Montawal with 2,658 affected families and four in Pagalungan with 4,295 families.
She said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-ARMM) has been conducting relief operations and they are expecting more aid to come into the stricken areas.
About 22,000 families in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur have been affected by floods brought about by heavy rains since Monday.
The sudden rise of flood waters was attributed to heavy rains in Bukidnon causing the Pulangi river to overflow, flooding the low- lying communities.
As observed in the past, flood waters from North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat flow toward the heavily silted Liguasan marshland through the Rio Grande de Mindanao before exiting to the Moro Gulf.
Meanwhile, residents near the Malitubog and Maridagao rivers in North Cotabato were also warned and put on standby for possible evacuation as flood waters continued to rise.