More 'Pablo' woes: New river threatens residents

By Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 20 2012 02:58 PM | Updated as of Dec 20 2012 10:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is now studying the need to move residents and evacuees in New Bataan anew because of the change in topography in the region.

The massive debris flow during the height of Typhoon Pablo carved a new river in the middle of the valley that now poses a risk to several villages in the area.

Dr. Mahar Lagmay of the Department of Science and Technology's Project NOAH said significant rainfall could be dangerous to residents in New Bataan since the new river runs across populated areas.

"Kailangan pagtulungan yung pagsisiguro na pagdating ng ulan, talagang ligtas yung mga evacuees. Importante yung impormasyong nakuha natin mula sa DOST," said Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, who led the assessment of the NDRRMC this morning.

Meanwhile, PAGASA allayed fears that a new typhoon was forming in the Eastern Visayas and Mindanao area.

Director Nathaniel Servando said that while they expect frequent rains next week in the region due to a low pressure area, it was not likely to become a "significant weather disturbance."

Soliman said that they are also looking into improving relief operations further as they have been some reports of food and medicine shortage in isolated baranggays.

The DSWD said P138 million worth of relief goods were already distributed, and some P215 million remaining in standby funds and supplies in calamity stricken areas.

Eighty-one bunk houses are also going to be constructed, with the bulk in Boston, Cateel, and Banganga towns in Davao Oriental where evacuation centers were destroyed by the typhoon.

Temporary employment through a cash for work program and stress debriefing are also being provided by the department.

Loss of livelihood is a tremendous concern in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental after hectares of coconut and banana plantations were flattened after the storm. The Department of Agriculture has pegged the damage to agriculture due to Pablo at P11.7 billion.

Soliman said they plan to talk to telecommunications companies to improve their service in the disaster areas.

"We're going to ask them to do two things. First is to speed up the repair of cell towers. But we will also request the deployment of temporary facilities that will provide coverage in hard hit areas so that aid workers can communicate more easily," she said.

She said they are currently at their early recovery phase, but plans are already being made for the long term rehabilitation of affected areas.