GENERAL SANTOS CITY – About 250 families from two municipalities in South Cotabato province have evacuated due to the emergence of ground fissures or tension cracks and heavy flooding triggered by intermittent heavy rains in the past several days.
About 88 families in Barangay Lamcade, Lake Sebu town have moved to safer grounds in the past two days as more huge tension cracks appeared in the area while more than 160 other households in Barangay Lapuz, Norala were forced to evacuate on Wednesday night due to renewed flooding.
Lake Sebu Mayor Floro Gandam said Thursday the fresh ground cracks were found in three areas in Lamcade, affecting communities, farms, and access roads connecting to other villages.
Gandam said some residents of sitios Tbob, Lower Lemnongu, and Upper Lemnongu have transferred to higher grounds for fear of a major landslide in the area.
“The assessment of the affected areas is ongoing and initial relief assistance will be delivered to the residents within the day,” he said in an interview over radio station Bombo Radyo in Koronadal City.
Gandam said the concerned sitios were among the areas where large ground tension cracks were monitored to have appeared five years ago.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 12 (Soccsksargen) has assessed the affected areas as highly vulnerable to landslides and recommended the evacuation of residents.
It said they tracked the global positioning system or GPS location of the communities and found out that they are within the “red zone” of the geo-hazard map, which is considered highly susceptible to geo-hazards, and in the case of Lamcade, to landslides.
The MGB-12 said the ground cracks could aggravate due to the continuing rainy season and eventually cause landslides in the area, Gandam said.
Joseph Cone, Lamcade barangay chair, said some of the ground cracks, which appeared near houses and on roads, measured more than 2 meters.
Cone said most of the evacuees were staying at the barangay gymnasium and their relatives while others opted to pitch tents and put up makeshift sheds by the roadside in Sitio Tekansad.
Due to the cracks along the main road to their village, he said, the barangay proper, as well as sitios Tekansad and Bong, have been isolated, affecting about 250 families.
“The cracks were actually expanding due to the rains, making the affected roads unsafe to travelers,” Cone said.
In Norala town, Barangay Lapuz chair Eduardo Botavara said residents of puroks Rizal and Magsaysay started to evacuate at about 9 p.m. Wednesday as the Banga River and an irrigation canal overflowed anew after hours of heavy rains.
He said huge volumes of floodwaters submerged the two communities, reaching waist-deep in several areas.