DAVAO CITY – The agricultural town of Pigcawayan, Cotabato has experienced the worst flooding in recent history, with 28 out of 40 barangays inundated, Mayor Juanito Agustin disclosed.
“It is the first time in the history of this town that we experienced this severe flooding. Because even town proper was also swamped by floodwaters, this has never happened before,” Agustin said.
Agustin added that floodwater was at least chest-deep in Poblacion 2 on Friday morning, Oct. 28.
He added that a portion of the Davao-Cotabato national highway in Barangay Manuangan was closed to traffic early Friday morning when floodwater rose to over six feet, making it impassable even for bigger trucks.
Thousands of motorists were stranded in Pigcawayan after the highway was closed to traffic.
“In the past, when that portion of the highway is flooded, motorists could still pass. But this time, it was really deep and the current was very strong,” the mayor recalled in the vernacular.
The national highway was reopened to motorists on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Photos and videos circulated in social media showing Agustin leading the responders in rescue operations in the submerged barangays in Pigcawayan.
Records from the local government showed that almost 5,000 persons from 28 barangays were affected by the flooding.
A report from the local government also showed that the severe flooding damaged at least 685 hectares of agricultural land, 90 percent of which are rice field.
According to the report, 90 hectares are almost due for harvest.
“With the volume of water from the mountainous areas, this is the worst I’ve seen here in Pigcawayan. This not just because there are no more trees in our mountains, this is all because of climate change,” he concluded.
Agustin appealed to kind-hearted individuals for help as the flood survivors are in need of hygiene kits, water, medicines, used clothing, mosquito nets, and blankets.
No casualties had been reported in Pigcawayan due to heavy rains from tropical storm “Paeng.”
In the neighboring town of Libungan, 20 barangays were affected by flood and two in Midsayap.
These three towns share a boundary in the marshy area of Maguindanao, the hardest hit province in Mindanao with 67 casualties as of 12 noon Saturday.
The provincial government of Cotabato has initially distributed 1,700 blankets, 300 traditional malong, 300 plastic mats, 50 boxes of bottled water, 200 mosquito nets, and 60 water containers to the affected towns.
The Integrated Provincial Health Office also distributed 160 hygiene kits, 160 plastic basins and buckets, 60 boxes of aqua tablets, 15 pregnancy kits, and assorted medicines.