Flashfloods hit Malaybalay, Lantapan villages

CABANGAHAN, Malaybalay City – Heavy rains brought flashfloods here and in nearby Lantapan town Tuesday afternoon destroying properties of at least 150 families but the Malaybalay City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported no casualties.

About 135 of the affected families were from this village, the worst hit, where at least five houses were “partially damaged,”  according to Edwin Rara, village chief.

Villagers describe the flashflood, which occurred from 3 to 7p.m. as “the worst to hit us, so far.”

“It was quick. I went out of the house to save some of our things washed out, and was clueless I would get hurt,” said 41-year old Danilo Avenido, who stepped on a barbed wire and injured his left leg.

Both north and sound bound motorists were blocked from proceeding along the portion of the Sayre Highway in Cabangahan as water overflowed from drainage. Traffic was restored only about 6p.m. but water subsided only after 7p.m.

Village officials blamed the flashfloods to lack of natural and man-made flood control in upland Lantapan, where farmlands were dominated by banana plantations. In Bugcaon, Lantapan, Bukidnon, 14 families residents were also affected, including one family that was evacuated.

But Rara said a pineapple plantation’s alleged faulty canals contributed to the flashfloods.

The Lapanday Diversified Products Corporation operates a 100-hectare pineapple plantation in Purok 3, an upland portion of the barangay.  Village officials said over the years the floods that hit the villages were caused by the firm’s land preparation. He clarified that the firm, however, can only be “partially blamed” for the flashfloods even if he added that they need to redirect their canals.

Rara added that LPDC officials vowed to remove silts in the Cabangahan Creek and in other drainage in the barangay usually clogged.

Alex Ricaforte, LPDC land association suprevisor, admitted to this reporter via telephone that they have been meeting with the barangay officials about their complaints. He cited that they have already “programmed work to clear the silts” but that they were just overtaken by the flood.

He said they are also in coordination with barangay officials on the need to redirect their canals.

Rara said they have also asked the Department of Public Works and Highways about the narrow culverts they built.
“We asked them to replace the small culverts with the bigger box culvert so that it could not be easily clogged,” he added. But he said a DPWH official  told them they will have to wait when the road repair will be done.

Rara noted that the village appears to be a catchment basin and cited that about 200 of the village’s 649 families are prone to flashfloods. He said they are looking at relocating them.

The Malaybalay CDRRMC is yet to release estimates of damages to property and crops as of June 13.   Barangay officials reported that the City Social Welfare and Development Office distributed groceries to the affected residents.

The Lantapan Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council  reported about P5.3 million damage to infrastructure. They reported that thespillway in Bugcaon village, which connect 13 barangays was “partially damaged.” Only half of the spillway is passableas of June 13.

The council also reported about P2 million crop damage so far, including 20 hectares of land planted to corn. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)