Iligan flood victims return home despite risks

ILIGAN CITY —– Some 100 families are back home in their houses along the river banks in Barangay Suarez a few days after being displaced by massive flash floods

Sunday afternoon (November 22).

Over a hundred households fled to  barangay evacuation center after their houses were flooded, with two totally destroyed after coconut trees fell on them.

Women displace by flashfloods in Barangay Suarez, Iligan City, received used clothing as assistance from a neighborhood.
(Divina M. Suson)

Resident Iris Cabasag said heavy rains started to pour around 2:00 o’clock Sunday afternoon with subsequent flash floods catching them by surprise. 

“Kalit man kaayo. Mga bata ra gyud akong nabitbit kay ang tubig mihapak naman sa among balay,” said Cabasag, whose husband works as baker in Marawi City.

She and her three children moved to her mother’s house meantime, which although also flooded was not damaged.

Lilyfel Manlangit, whose house was totally destroyed, said she remains thankful because no one from her family was hurt.

“Maayo nalang kay adlawan to nahitabo. Kay kung gabii pa, patay ming tanan,” Manlangit recalled. (I was happy  it happened at day time because if it was night time we might all be dead by now.)

0ne of the two houses destroyed by flashfloods in Barangay Suarez in Iligan City on Sunday, November 22. 
(Divina M. Suson)

Barangay Chairman Butch Gelica said the barangay has no area to relocate the affected families and can’t stop them from going back to fix their damaged houses.

Gelica said the barangay council would submit a report to the LGU requesting assistance.

In February 2012, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Iligan passed and approved City Ordinance number 12-5815 declaring areas in several barangays in the city as danger zones based on the report rendered by the Geosciences Division of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – 10.

Iligan City Social Welfare and Development staff interviews a woman who was displaced by flashfloods in Barangay Suarez on Sunday, November 22. (Divina M. Suson)

The report was the result of the rapid post-flood assessment of some barangays in Iligan City that was badly affected by the December 2011 tropical storm Sendong that killed hundreds of individual and destroyed thousands of properties.

Barangay Suarez was not included in the ordinance.

The areas declared danger zones are eight puroks of Barangay Santiago which are classified as highly susceptible to flooding and another five puroks of the same barangay in which development should be restricted. This barangay has the most number of residents died during the Sendong calamity.

Classified also as highly susceptible to flooding and where development should be restricted are nine puroks and the whole Bayug Island of Barangay Hinaplanon and four puroks of Barangay Sta. Filomena.