By CONG B. CORRALES
and NITZ ARANCON
THE heavy downpour past midnight yesterday resulting from tropical depression “Urduja” made residents of Barangay Consolacion edgy and brought them to their feet. For many of them, it was like waking up from a nightmare.
The slow-moving Urduja, the 21st storm to hit the country this year, evoked bitter memories of storm “Sendong” that devastated Consolacion and many other villages in the city six years ago.
Instinctively, residents who live beside Cagayan River were up and about, preparing their things while others still took turns in monitoring the water level of the river.
“Lisod na’g masegundahan na sad ’ta,” one resident told this paper.
When the torrential rains started to wane at around 2:30 am, residents slowly went back to their homes.
Six years ago today, Sendong made landfall on the east coast of Mindanao. By 10 pm of Dec. 16, 2011, the eye of the storm was already hovering over the city.
In a span of six hours, Sendong poured 500 mm of rain, approximately eight to 10 inches.
Barangay Consolacion, a river-rine village, was among the hard-hit areas of Sendong.
At 3 pm this afternoon, Mayor Oscar Moreno and Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy would lead the Sendong commemoration at the city hall grounds with the theme: “Paghandum, Pangandoy, ug Pagpasalamat”.
Ermin Pimentel, chief of the City Housing Development Department, said local officials would discuss measures that were being taken to avoid a repeat of the Sendor tragedy that claimed the lives of some 700 people in Cagayan de Oro alone.
Pimentel said city hall would also expand it its shelter program because Mayor Moreno wants families living in flood-prone areas relocated.
Meanwhile, as tropical depression Urduja slowly moved towards eastern Visayas, disaster officials evacuated over 300 people after flashfloods inundated their houses in Balingasag and Lagonglong towns in Misamis Oriental.
Fernando Dy, Misamis Oriental provincial disaster management chief, said the flood waters started to rise on Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning had already affected two more towns namely Claveria and Opol.
Dy said the approach of the Musi-musi Bridge in Barangay Baliwagan, Balingasag collapsed because of the rampaging waters stopping vehicular traffic between Cagayan de Oro and Butuan City.
He said some motorists were forced to use an alternate road between Claveria and Gingoog City.
“Only motorcycles were allowed to cross the bridge. The DPWH was able to repair the bridge after lunch today,” Dy said.
He said at least nine houses were destroyed or damaged in Balingasag and Lagonglong.
In Caraga, incoming and outgoing flights in this city and Siargao, a tourist destination, were canceled on Thursday due to bad weather conditions.
Surigao del Norte provincial board member Marlon Coro said the Surigao-Cebu-Surigao, Manila-Siargao-Manila, and Cebu-Siargao-Cebu flights were canceled.
Vessels plying the Surigao-Southern Leyte and Surigao-Cebu routes also remained at port, city information officer Annette Villaces said. (with reports from roel catoto of mindanews)