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Monday, 06 November 2017 13:43

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

San Jose, CA. — One devastating, killer flood was all it took to force hundreds of people living along riverbanks to flee their homes. That deadly water-rage killed stubborn people who wouldn’t heed warnings after warnings to move to higher grounds. In only a few hours of continuous rains, the rivers and tributaries rose like a raging tsunami and swallowed everything in sight.

Farmlands were washed away and with it some of our food supply. It probably was the deadliest flash flood Zamboanga has seen in years. While the worst may be over, Zamboanga faces another daunting test: the clean up of debris, devastated houses and fallen trees scattered across kilometers of hills and plains. Residents are eager to have their properties cleared of littered plastic and trash so that they can rebuild and replant. This can take months to finish.

Flash floods are annual occurrences in Zamboanga clearly enough to suggest to our city officials that a catch basin is needed where flood waters would flow and thrown into the sea. That should be one of the focuses of City Hall and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

With that happened, the water district was lost for words to describe why there was water shortage despite the heavy downpour. Simply said: if you imagine soil sliding down hill into the river or creek, there are many things to think about. First, eroded materials can taint water supplies for those who have wells or divert directly from streams. Our reservoir is too small to carry a huge volume of water for treatment. The water firm will have to make sure that water isn’t impaired by unwanted derbies, nutrients and organic carbons to wash in.

Last year’s October floods and mudslides (perennial natural occurrences) should have serve as a stern warning to the managers of our city. Every time calamities occur, such as the one that just passed, people die, houses are destroyed and farmlands turn into arid lands. The city government spends millions of precious pesos to fix the damage. Besides, nothing hard-fisted has been enforced to stop people from living along riverbanks and tributaries. No strict measures have been imposed to prevent the development of settlements along riverbanks. Our land-use policies should be amended.

Flooding in urban areas have not been prevented. Damage control measures have miserably failed. There is a need to hire experts on flood control. Although millions of pesos have been spent to mitigate flooding and improve our drainage and sewerage systems, still the water rises.

Six months ago, I wrote about a possible river-rise. I suggested that the riverbanks and tributaries should be cleared of settlers. If they insisted on living in these parts, they should agree that their homes and their lives would not be eligible for disaster assistance in the event of a killer flood.

Another thing: when rivers overrun their banks, houses are swept away. The waters cover concrete streets with all kinds of filth gashing out of defective sewers creating an unhealthy environment. Flood control is of immediate importance if we are to reduce or completely eliminate natural disaster losses.

Meantime, while more than 2,400 people were displaced after the flood surge in Labuan, the Western Mindanao Power Corp. and the San Ramon Power, Inc. extended help to the affected individuals in the ALL-IN-ONE relief mission. Relief goods were distributed to Typhoon Paolo victims last Oct. 26 at the Ramon Enriquez National High School.

In partnership with the city government, private companies, non-government organizations and civic leaders heeded the cry for help. More things can be achieved when we stand united in all kinds of endeavors.