Rains trigger landslides in Cebu; over 200 evacuate-A A +A
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
CEBU CITY -- Threats of a landslide prompted authorities to evacuate at least 229 residents of Sitio Proper in Barangay Gaas, Balamban last Sunday, amid persistent rains brought by Tropical Depression Agaton.
The local police, barangay and government officials helped bring 54 families to two evacuation centers after cracks were noticed in a hilly portion of the area.
A team of geologists from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Central Visayas will be sent to the area today (Tuesday) to inspect Sitio Proper, which has been declared landslide-prone.
Eddie Llamedo, spokesperson of DENR-Central Visayas, revealed that Sitio Garnisan and Mayana of Barangay Gaas are also susceptible to landslides.
As of Monday, Agaton weakened from a tropical depression to a low-pressure area, but has already caused at least 16 landslides and severe flooding in four regions of Mindanao.
The national disaster council reported more than 795,000 persons were affected, 42 killed, 65 hurt and at least seven missing. About 26,400 families have taken shelter in evacuation centers.
In Cebu, four houses were confirmed damaged in Sitio Proper, Gaas, Balamban, following landslides caused by heavy rains.
The town’s social worker, Abel Tolero, confirmed that as of 11 a.m. Monday, the houses of 18 families also had minor damage as a result of the ground movements.
The Municipal Social Welfare Office has been providing packed meals to the evacuees since Friday, as it awaits assistance from the Capitol.
Provincial Social Welfare Office head Evelyn Senajon said they are still waiting for the local government’s report and recommendations before they respond. Under disaster response procedures, the local government is the first responder during calamities and disasters.
She said they need to know from the local officials the exact number of affected individuals, what their needs are and the extent of damage to their properties.
In March 2011, senior geologists conducted a geohazard assessment in Sitio Proper, which sits on a steep slope.
The assessment, Llamedo said, showed that the area has a highly weathered rock formation and ground cracks.
The MGB issued a threat advisory twice -- in March 2011 and in July 2012 -- and asked residents to monitor the area for any sign of movement and sunken roads.
Chief Inspector Richard Oliver, the town police chief, said the residents are temporarily staying at the barangay hall and in Gaas National High School.
“They were already provided by the local government unit with what they need,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
When the residents of Sitio Proper noticed the cracks last Friday, 12 families voluntarily vacated the area.
Most of the families there rely on farming and selling livestock.
Last Sunday, Oliver said they were forced to move out other families.
“Daghan na kaayo ug cracks. Kuyaw na mahulpa (There were numerous cracks and the risk of a landslide is high),” he added.
Last week, Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Director Noel Gillamac declared a full alert status to monitor all areas prone to flood or landslide.
If the need arises, he said the police should make preemptive evacuations to avoid any accident. They should also assist the local government units during the evacuation.
Chief Inspector Oliver of the Balamban police also urged motorists to avoid taking the Transcentral Highway when going to Balamban and other towns in the west while the weather condition is bad, or take precautionary measures when driving.
A portion of the road in Baranga Gaas was blocked for several hours last Friday following a landslide. No one got injured.
“Kuyaw gyud kay basin maigo sila. Kusog sad mu-fog karon (There’s a danger that motorists would get hit during a landslide. The fog is also thick these days),” Oliver said. (DSM/With OCP/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 21, 2014.