Following declaration of state of calamity: Celso orders quick steps to rehab damage PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 14:16

Mayor Celso Lobregat yesterday ordered all concerned agencies to take immediate and appropriate measures to address the needs of the constituents affected by flooding and other related incidents caused by the 4-day continuous rains and strong winds in the city.

This, as the City Council Monday night unanimously approved a resolution declaring Zamboanga City in a state of calamity based on recommendations of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council citing widespread destruction of fishponds and agricultural products and disruption of lifelines such as electricity and potable water system.

Incessant heavy downpour spawned by monsoon rains and induced by typhoon “Lawin” battered the city since Friday resulting to massive flooding in low lying areas and destruction/damage to houses located near coastal areas due to huge waves. Hardest hit barangays were Vitali, Tictapul, Mangusu, Divisoria, Boalan and Tugbungan and Lanzones in the east coast and Labuan, Patalon, Baliwasan, San Jose Gusu, Sta. Barbara and Sta. Cruz Island (Zone IV) in the west coast.

A 5-year old boy, Mark Anthony Mallari, was killed when he was hit by a tree that was uprooted due to strong winds in Labuan, Sunday. A woman was injured in the face when her house collapsed due to liquefaction in Licomo also Sunday while some 12 persons were given medical assistance by the City Health Office due to various illnesses also Sunday.

Latest records at the CDRRMC Operations Center in City Hall show that a total of 1,692 families were displaced by the calamity with 4,625 dependents. A total of 222 houses were damaged—48 of which were totally damaged while 180 were partially damaged.

The latest addition to the number of families affected came from Rio Hondo where 21 houses were smashed by a cargo boat due to huge waves.
As of press time, 576 families were still at the evacuation centers established in San Jose Gusu, Vitali, Divisoria and Tugbungan.

Mayor Lobregat convened the CDRRMC Monday afternoon to assess the situation as well as to discuss measures on how to alleviate the plight of the victims. It was during the meeting that the CDRRMC approved a resolution recommending to City Council the declaration of a state of calamity in Zamboanga. DILG City Director Atty. Mohammad Taha Arakama sponsored the resolution and seconded by committee-member City ADminstrator Antonio Orendain Jr.

On Monday night, the City Council, presided by Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde, met on an emergency meeting in City Hall and approved the recommendation and authorized the release and utilization of calamity funds of the city for assistance to those affected and to support the ongoing program and operations to address the calamity, subject to existing laws, rules and regulations issued by competent authorities.

Citing initial reports from the field, City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat reported that some 1,120 hectares of farm lands were inundated by the floods—of which 1,000 hectares were fishponds, 84 hectares rice lands, 21 hectares vegetable farmlands and 15 hectares corn lands.

Huge waves also destroyed 55 hectares of seaweeds plantation along the coastal barangays, according to Palacat.

On the other hand, Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) president Elbert Atilano reported that 53 major electrical posts were knocked down by the heavy rains and strong winds causing power outages in the different parts of the city.

Atilano stressed during the CDRRMC meeting Monday that while the problem was being addressed, the power could not be fully restored within 24 hours in several parts of the city as most of the areas where the knocked down posts were located were underwater.

For his part, Engr. Alejo Rojas, Assistant General Manager of the Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD) revealed that the surge of water level at the Pasonanca-Tumaga river has damaged water transmission lines of the ZCWD causing disruptions in potable water supply in the affected brangays, which unfortunately could not be repaired or restored within 24 hours.

Rojas likewise reported that damage was caused to the slope protection at the Tamion River in Vitali damaging waterlines that cater to potable water supply to affected barangays. Potable water supply in barangay Lumayang also could not be served due to damaged pipelines and materials for repair could not be brought to the area within 24 hours due to continuous flooding, Rojas added.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lobregat said the City Social Welfare and Development office under Francisco Barredo continues with the distribution of relief goods to the victims since Sunday.

In a meeting with city department heads yesterday morning, Lobregat instructed the City Engineer’s Office to immediately make an assessment of the damage wrought by the calamity on infrastructures specifically riprap and slope protection projects as well as to submit the plans and estimates for their immediate repair and rehabilitation.

Riprap projects were inundated in Manggal, Baliwasan; Tabuk in San Jose Gusu; Maasin and other areas hit by the floods as well as in Curuan and Ayala which were also hit by massive floods a few weeks back.

The city has yet to ascertain the estimated amount of damage to properties.

On the other hand, classes in schools underwater and used as evacuation centers remained suspended until yesterday. Classes are expected to resume in most areas affected today.

Lobregat has urged residents to remain vigilant and alert, as the weather situation remains abnormal. He also called on families residing near river banks and coastal areas to look for alternate and safer areas to stay. — Sheila Covarrubias