10 years after Sendong, Cagayan de Oro braces for another storm

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2021 12:36 PM

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MANILA – Cagayan de Oro is preparing for the possible onslaught of typhoon Odette, its mayor Oscar Moreno said.

“We’re also closely following where in Bukidnon the rains would fall the hardest, because the waters that flow to Cagayan de Oro City would depend on which part of Bukidnon the rains are heavier,” the mayor said on ANC’s “Rundown.”

“In any event we will be hit. We will be hit but much would depend on where the eye of Odette is,” Moreno said. “And it seems to me, based on the report last night, looks like on Thursday evening, tomorrow or Friday, Odette will be very close already to eastern side of Misamis Oriental.”

“So my instruction to our team was okay, let’s ensure that the city is safeguarded and adequate manpower should be put in place, but we should be prepared to also assist other municipalities nearby as the situation warrants.”

“My instruction was for them to closely coordinate with (Office of Civil Defense) at the regional level and lend assistance wherever we can in the areas where the rains would really be quite heavy, including landslides, flooding,” Moreno noted.

The city’s preparations for Odette come on the eve of its commemoration of the onslaught of Typhoon Sendong, which claimed more than 1,000 in the city in 2011.

“Sendong was quite extraordinary. The rains were focused in one area, in the western side of Bukidnon, and most of the time the rains are in the central side, [in] Manolo Fortich, in that area,” Moreno said of the disaster.

The official said they are prepared for another typhoon of Sendong’s magnitude, if and when it strikes again.

“Sendong is still very fresh in the minds of the people of Cagayan de Oro. That was really a disaster…our battle cry is never again to Sendong, and never again will there be another Sendong.”

Moreno said they have learned their lessons from the killer floods of 2011.

“We have learned from the lessons of Sendong. Number one, virtually the government had encouraged people to live in danger zones, to us [it was] politically expedient then. I was governor of Misamis Oriental when that happened,” he said.

“Number two, there was no disaster risk reduction team in the city. There was a volunteer group and then that was it. And then Number three there was no flood control program along Cagayan River.”

“Now in all of these, these three lessons, we have reversed it,” Moreno said.

“Firstly, there are no settlers now along the flood-prone areas, in Cagayan River. Secondly of course our city disaster risk reduction team we have established that. The first day of my office in 2013 I recruited then-Col. Mario Verner Monsanto…who is from Cagayan de Oro so I recruited him to establish our city disaster risk reduction team.”

“And fortunately we now have a very strong team here in the city. In fact yesterday we were recognized as the second most resilient highly urbanized city but we’re not putting anything to chance. Of course the support of the barangay officials is very crucial, and the community also.”

--ANC, 15 December 2021