MANILA, Philippines -- Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) Mayor Vicente Emano said they were not warned of the strength of Tropical Storm Sendong (international name: Washi), which lashed Mindanao and left more 300 people dead, with almost 300 more missing.
"Wala naman talagang sinabi na ganoon ang mangyayari," Emano said in an interview with dzMM. "Kami ang tinamaan ng mata ng bagyo, hindi na po sinabi yan."
"Wala pong nagsabi na ganito ang darating na bagyo sa amin, wala man lang bulletin, wala man lang nakapagsabi na we will be in the eye of the storm," he added.
Cagayan de Oro is rarely hit by storms, and many residents were ill-prepared for the wrath of Sendong. Flash floods triggered voluntary evacuations as early as midnight last Friday.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, 327 have been confirmed dead in Sendong's wake, with 274 still missing.
In Cagayan de Oro alone, 117 were confirmed dead, with 8 people still missing. Emano says over 10 barangays were affected by Sendong.
"Yung patay po, sa palagay ko aabot pa sa more than 300," Emano added. "Hindi ko maibigay ang exact figures, dahil ngayon kumukaha pa kami ng patay."
NDRRMC Executive director Benito Ramos admitted that the residents of Cagayan de Oro as well as Iligan City may have been caught by surprise that they were hit by Sendong.
"Hindi eto damay sa usual na path," Ramos said. "Ang usual na path n'ya ay Central Visayas. Kung hagip ang Central Mindanao, ang experience ng ating mga kababayan d'yan, ang pinakamataas na ay 60-millimeters ng tubig na madala ng bagyo."
"Ang nangyari, 181-millimeters ang dinala n'ya," he added.
Ramos says the large amount of rainfall caused the Cagayan river to swell, dumping water into the 13 barangays along the riverbanks. The last time Cagayan de Oro experienced flooding was in 2009.
Iligan and Cagayan de Oro remain under a state of calamity. -- With a report from ANC.