Tuguegarao mayor says to force evacuation of reluctant residents as heavy flooding persists


Posted at Nov 14 2020 04:48 PM

Tuguegarao mayor says to force evacuation of reluctant residents as heavy flooding persists 1
Residents of Iraga, Solana in Cagayan slept on their rooftops due to high floodwaters. They stayed on their houses to guard their belongings. Photo by Francis Jorque

MANILA— Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano on Saturday afternoon announced the city would be forced to evacuate residents who refuse to go to evacuation centers following unprecedented massive flooding in the city and other parts of Cagayan province. 

Soriano said in an interview on Teleradyo that rescue officers are having a hard time because some residents refuse to be transferred to evacuation centers even if they are trapped on their rooftops. 

“Pipilitin po namin lahat i-evacuate kasi kalimitan na problema diyan, kapag nagbigay kami ng pagkain sa kanila, hindi na sila nag-e-evacuate. ‘Yan ang problema tapos mamayang gabi tsaka sila magtatawag ng rescue. We will place our rescuers in danger,” said Soriano. 

(We will try to evacuate everyone because usually, when we give them food and water, they do not go to evacuation centers anymore. That was the problem last night and then later on, they will call for rescue.)

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“Kaya hindi ako nagpapadala ng pagkain, sa evacuation centers lang po kami nagpapadala ng mga pagkain dahil this morning 'yung mga humihingi ng tulong kahapon, kagabi, ayaw na umalis (sa kanilang mga bahay),” he added. 

(That is why as much as possible, we do not give food to them. We only provide food to evacuation centers to entice them to come. This morning, those who are asking for food yesterday refused to go out of their houses.)

Conchita Morales, a resident of Linao West, for example, refused to go to an evacuation center because she said they are cramped and flooded. 

Morales has been on the rooftop of a house with 5 other families, or around 50 individuals, since Friday due to neck-high floodwaters. 

“Kasi 'yung mga gamit namin di namin maiwanan. 'Yung evacuation center lubog din [sa baha], punong-puno po ng tao. Ayos na kami dito sa bubong ang kailangan lang namin pagkain at tubig… Okay na kami dito sa bubong,” she said in an interview on Teleradyo. 

(We cannot leave our stuff. The evacuation centers are crowded and flooded. We are okay here on rooftops, but we need food and water.)

But the mayor said rescue teams will survey the city to force evacuations after noon. He said they will carry the residents if they need to.

“Wala tayong magagawa diyan, i-e-enforce natin ang forced evacuation after lunch. Marami-rami pa po ito dahil kagabi… 200 [ang tumawag] at nagpapa-rescue po kagabi,” he said.

(We cannot do anything. We will enforce forced evacuation after lunch. Many are still waiting to be rescued because last night we received at least 200 calls.) 

“Puwersahin namin, hindi puwede 'yun. Bubuhatin namin sila kung hindi sila papayag. It’s for their own safety.” 

(We will force them. We will carry them if they refuse to come because it is for their own safety.) 

Earlier, Soriano said the city council has approved the declaration of a state of calamity due to massive floods. 

As of late Friday, 39 barangays in Tuguegarao City were "under water" after Cagayan province and the whole Cagayan Valley region were submerged in deep floods caused by rainfall from Typhoon Ulysses and the northeast monsoon. 

At least 2,500 residents are in evacuation centers in Tuguegaro.

Hashtags #CagayanNeedsHelp and #RescuePH topped the Twitter trending list on Friday night until Saturday morning as people sought aid for residents from Cagayan who took to social media to appeal for help as they waited to be rescued from rooftops.