SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: At least 50 barangay (villages) near the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Marsh are flooded since late Wednesday following three days of heavy rains in hinterlands in the nearby provinces.
The Liguasan marsh in Central Mindanao is a catch basin for more than a dozen large rivers that spring from the provinces of Bukidnon, Maguindanao, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
Several hundreds of families in two neighboring Maguindanao towns close to the marsh – Pagalungan and Montawal – evacuated to houses of their relatives far from the river and swamps that overflowed on Wednesday.
As of Friday, Montawal officials said four barangay (villages) were submerged in waist-deep floodwaters after the large Pulangi River in Bukidnon that drains at the Liguasan Marsh swelled flooding more that 10,000-hectares of farms.
Montawal Vice Mayor Otto Montawal said they need help from the provincial government of Maguindanao and the Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (HEART-ARMM).
The local government has been providing relief services to flood victims since late Wednesday.
“About 60 percent of the lands within the area of our municipality is now flooded,” Vice Mayor Montawal said.
Montawal municipal police chief, Insp. Nolie Sudaria, confirmed the evacuation of hundreds of families from the flooded villages.
He said worst hit by flood is Barangay Talapas in the outskirts of Montawal, where the level of murky floodwaters reached more than four feet by Thursday.
Meanwhile, Army officials of the 602nd Brigade based in nearby Carmen town in North Cotabato said rampaging floods also hit Montawal’s Barangays Talitay, Bulod, Limbalod and Nabundas.
Maguindanao’s provincial emergency group and medical team is continuously packing relief supplies for flood victims in the affected barangays in Pagalungan and Montawal.
On the other hand, low-lying areas in Pikit town, North Cotabato were also hit by flashfloods, according to local officials.
Meanwhile, at least 94 families in two riverside communities in Alabel, Sarangani Province were temporarily displaced after the critical Buayan River swelled on Thursday night following hours of heavy rains.
The Alabel Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said floodwaters from the river swept portions of Barangay Maribulan affecting 22 families in Sition Bayan and 72 households in Purok 8 of Barangay Baluntay.
As of 6 a.m. on Friday, military and police units conducted pre-emptive evacuation in La Paz and Loreto towns in Agusan Del Sur being threatened by flooding with the swelling of Agusan River caused by continuous rains.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military and other disaster response units in Agusan Del Norte and Agusan Del Sur are still on red alert status despite the calming of the weather.