PDRRMO sandbagging Arnedo Dike

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

APALIT -- The local government unit here in cooperation with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) said on Friday it is now conducting a series of sand-bagging operations to augment the ongoing construction of the Arnedo dike in anticipation of Typhoon Inday in the next few days.

Last July 24, a portion of the Arnedo dike in Barangay San Vicente of Apalit town, which is estimated at 52.5 meters, breached following strong currents from Pampanga River during the onslaught of the Typhoon Glenda.

The Provincial Government of Pampanga has provided 300 jumbo bags and 10,000 sandbags to cover up the broken portion of the dike.


Need to evacuate

The local officials and PDRRMO reiterated that it is urging the residents of Barangay San Vicente to evacuate into the designated evacuation centers.

The PDRRMO added that around 431 families or more than 2,000 individuals will be affected by the deteriorating Arnedo Dike.

Authorities have already set-up three evacuation centers located in the municipal covered court, Villena Subdivision, and the neighboring Barangay San Juan which can all together accommodate a total of 700 families.

“As much as possible, we want a pre-emptive evacuation because we don’t want to risk the safety of the residents especially the elderly, children, and the women,” the PDRRMO said.

Meanwhile, residents have observed that a number of cracks were already forming along the dike since Wednesday.

“In the past few days, we have noticed that the path along Barangay San Vicente has been somewhat going down. Then finally, last night, the part of the dike broke down in the Sitio Alauli,” said Emil Santiago, one of the residents of Barangay San Vicente.

With the threat of the incoming Typhoon Inday, most of the residents feel the Arnedo Dike will further deteriorate which might eventually lead to major flash floods in the town.

“We are really very scared because the Arnedo Dike is quickly collapsing right before our eyes,” said Mely Ocampo of Sitio Alauli.

Some of the residents, however, prefer to find shelter in their relatives’ homes in the nearby towns instead of staying on the evacuation centers.

Vulnerable to disasters

The PDRRMO said they have been closely monitoring the whole stretch of Arnedo Dike for several years now.

“Actually, we have been closely looking into the entire Arnedo dike. Since it is an old dike, it is no longer serving its purpose. It is very vulnerable to disasters,” the PDRRMO explained.

Different portions of the Arnedo dike in five towns around the province have been collapsing several times in the past few years.

The PDRRMO is also observing a portion of the dike in San Luis town after the Pampanga River breached it last year.

While there were no reported casualties, local officials are very worried that the present rainy season may strengthen the strong current of water from the Pampanga River, which can further weaken the dike.

Still under construction

The Arnedo Dike is currently undergoing a rehabilitation project initiated by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as part of its Mount Pinatubo Emergency Project Management Office (MPEPMO).

The 74-year-old Arnedo Dike is situated along the five towns of Arayat, Apalit, Candaba, San Simon, and San Luis. It was built in the 1940s to serve as the first line of flood defense against the Pampanga River.

Thousands of residential structures, however, were built above the flood defense which weakened the Arnedo Dike.

According to a Sun.Star Pampanga source, the sheet piling and slope protection project of DPWH covers more 290 linear meters which amounted to around P 30 million. The said project includes Apalit, Macabebe, and Calumpit.

The residents are questioning the integrity of the said sheet piling and slope protection project.

According to some of the residents here, the eventual deterioration of the dike has been a result of the rehabilitation projects which placed insufficient sheet piles near the dike.

“Why did it collapse in the midst of the construction? The project should have supposedly strengthened the foundation of the Arnedo Dike. Perhaps, the project team did not rehabilitate the dike properly,” said a resident of Barangay San Vicente.

The affected residents speculate that the rehabilitation project is substandard and that the contractor is not maximizing the entire budget allotted.

The residents cited that the steel have been disproportionately placed by the rehabilitation project contractors.

The project contractor, Oscar Domingo of Bulacan, defended that the sheet piles should not be blamed for the dike’s breakdown. Domingo also said that they really reduced the measurement of the steel in order to avoid the roads and houses near the dike.

Moreover, he also cited the recent onslaught of Typhoon Glenda as the main cause of the dike’s deterioration.

Domingo, however, admitted that they failed to notice that the sheet piles were placed in a deformed path along Barangay San Vicente, which eventually resulted to the dike’s breaching.

The rehabilitation project, which commenced in April 2014, is expected to be completed on November 2014. However, due to the breached dike, the project contractors are keen on extending the rehabilitation.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 27, 2014.

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