Surigao del Sur residents return to their homes as floods subside

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 22 2021 08:09 AM | Updated as of Feb 22 2021 02:44 PM

Aerial photo shows part of Tandag City in Surigao del Sur affected by the massive flooding caused by the heavy rains brought by Tropical storm Auring on February 21, 2021. Photo courtesy of Provincial Government of Surigao del Sur

MANILA (UPDATE) - Floods in Surigao del Sur were subsiding early Monday following the onslaught of tropical depression Auring, the provincial governor said.

Around 20,940 families fled their homes and were placed in 394 evacuation centers, according to Governor Ayec Pimentel.

"Ang baha ngayon ay humuhupa nang kaunti at ang evacuees ay umuwi sa kanilang bahay. Friday, Saturday grabe talaga ang baha, may mga naanod na bahay, may mga nadaganan ng kahoy," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(Floodwaters here are somewhat subsiding and evacuees have returned to their homes. Floods were worst last Friday and Saturday, some houses drifted away, some were damaged by fallen wood.)

"Sa ngayon po ay maganda na (ang panahon) at medyo sumibol na ang araw pero the past 2 days grabe talaga. Naghanda na kami Huwebes pa para zero casualty ang target natin.

(We're experiencing fair weather now but the past 2 days were the worst. We prepared last Thursday as we aim for zero casualty.)

"Hanggang leeg po ang baha dito sa Tandag atsaka sa ibang municipalities at ang hangin malakas talaga. Di kamukha ng Typhoon Vicky, ito may malakas na hangin," he said, referring to the storm that left 3 dead in the province late last year.

(Floodwaters were neck-deep here in Tandag and other municipalities experienced strong winds. Unlike Typhoon Vicky, this one packed strong winds.)

Some evacuation centers were unable to implement minimum health standards as floodwaters reached them, Pimentel added.

"'Yung iba talaga nagobserve ng health protocols, yung ibang evacuation centers natin binaha rin so nagsiksikan talaga, pati sa kapitolyo. Hopefully wala naman siguro magka-COVID dyan, may bantay naman tayo, medical staff natin nandoon naka-PPE, mga guwardiya, mayors binabantayan lahat yan," he said.

(Some were able to observe health protocols, some were flooded so they were overcrowded, even at the capitol. Hopefully we won't get more COVID cases as our medical staff with PPE, guards, and mayors monitor the situation.)

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The governor said he would meet local chief executives and local disaster officials later Monday to assess the extent of Auring's damage.

"Okay naman po sa ngayon ang lahat, nabigyan naman natin ng food packs, nagpapasalamat ako sa mayors. Sana matulungan din kami ni President (Rodrigo) Duterte," he said.

(We've given food packs to the residents, thanks to the mayors. We hope President Duterte can help us.)

"Sa ngayon po puro utang muna, alam mo naman marami ang COVID natin pati sa kapitolyo, yung social hall namin ginawa ko nang ospital."

(We continue to make loans as we have many COVID-19 cases that even our capitol's social hall is now a hospital.)

As of Sunday, the province has had a total of 1,309 COVID-19 cases, including 217 active infections, according to the health department.

In a separate interview with Teleradyo, Tandag City Mayor Roxanne Pimentel said some families remained in evacuation centers because their communities had yet to be declared safe.

She also said farmers were "greatly affected" by the calamity, in which 1,200 hectares of land were submerged by floodwater. She pegged the agricultural damage at P60 million.

Pimentel said they would continue giving relief packs to affected families who were staying in different evacuation centers. Work in government offices and private companies are also suspended.

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