FOURTEEN barangay (villages) in Cagayan province were submerged by floodwaters because of nonstop heavy downpours brought about by the southwest monsoon, causing rivers to swell in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley).
Gov. Manuel Mamba said millions worth of property, rice lands and livestock in these villages in the coastal town of Claveria in northern Cagayan were destroyed while two other neighboring towns were also threatened with flooding.
Mamba added that there were also landslides in Claveria and in the neighboring towns of Pamplona and Sanchez Mira as well as in a mountainous area near locos Norte.
Two bridges in Claveria and Santa Praxedes were also impassable because of the floodwaters and landslides.
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According to Edwin Viernes of the National Irrigation Administration Flood Management in Ramon town in Isabela province, the occurrence of floods and landslides in northern Cagayan had nothing to do with the release of water from the Magat Dam reservoir on October 21.
Viernes said water released from the Magat dam reservoir does not flow to rivers in those areas.
The Cagayan Electric Cooperative 2 said it has temporarily placed the Claveria-Sanchez Mira-Santa Praxedes lines and parts of Apayao province under power shutdown for safety while floodwaters continued to rise.
Meanwhile, the gradually increasing level at the aging Magat Dam reservoir in Ramon town in Isabela on Sunday led the National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MARIIS) to open two gates by 2.5 meters to release water at around 500 cubic meters per second for its safety.
As of 1 p.m. on Sunday, the Magat dam reservoir had reached the level of 189.95 meters or 3.05 meters short of its spilling level of 193.
Eduardo Ramos, NIA-MARIIS division manager, said the release of water was needed as the reservoir elevation needs to be lowered in anticipation of the expected heavy inflow caused by the continuous high inflow.
Disaster management authorities in Cagayan Valley are expecting the level of water to rise that may cause more flooding, particularly in the low-lying communities along rivers in Isabela and Cagayan provinces.
“We are advising residents living in low-level areas to seek higher ground to avoid loss of lives and livestock,” officials of the Region 2 Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
NIA-MARIIS officials said discharge of water from Magat dam might continue in the next few days to relieve pressure on the old structure and in anticipation of more rainfall.
The swelling of the dam’s major sources such as the Ibulao River in Ifugao and the Magat River in Nueva Vizcaya resulted from the continued downpours.
Authorities have alerted not only residents living in low-lying areas, but also those in the mountain areas of possible flash floods and landslides.
The Office of the Civil Defense said water from the Cagayan River, with its Ganano and Magat tributaries, could affect the City of Cauayan and the towns of San Agustin, Jones, Echague, Alicia, Angadanan, Naguilian, Reina Mercedes, San Mateo, Cabatuan, Aurora and Luna in Isabela province.
It said floods might occur in the middle Cagayan River with its Siffu-Mallig and Pinacanuan Rivers of Ilagan City and San Pablo town tributaries.
This could also affect Isabela’s towns of Gamu, San Mariano, Tumauini, Delfin Albano, Santo Tomas, Cabagan, Santa Maria and San Pablo and City of Ilagan.
Flooding could also happen in the lower Cagayan River with its Pinacanauan de Tuguegarao, Chico, Pared and Dummun tributaries.
This could also affect the Cagayan province towns of Peñablanca, Enrile, Solana, Iguig, Amulung, Alcala, Baggao, Lasam, Gattaran Lal-lo, Camalaniugan, Aparri, Tuao, Piat and Sto. Niño and Tuguegarao City.
The Philippine National Police, Isabela Public Safety and Safety Division and barangay officials have been monitoring attempts to cross bridges that have been submerged in Isabela province.