Priest calls on Toledo officials to solve drainage problem
May B. Miasco (The Freeman) - January 4, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The natural calamity that struck Toledo City in western Cebu on New Year's Eve has exposed human lapses and the resilience of the affected villages as well.

Affected residents and even one parish priest blame the poor drainage system at the city proper which caused flooding when rains poured hard for about 10 hours on December 31.

Parish priest Jonah Orat of Archdiocesan Shrine of St. John of Sahagun, where some residents took shelter, lamented that drainage in the city is a problem and has to be addressed or else people will suffer.

Orat was also a witness to the wrath of supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013 when he was assigned in Daanbantayan town, in northern Cebu.

He felt the need to accept residents who sought refuge at the parish and so he called off the evening Masses that day including the New Year's Eve Mass.

Seeing the severity of the problem, Orat challenged the city government to resolve the matter as soon as possible as it puts people to great risk especially when another intense rain occur.

"The rains do not do harm but with poor drainage, sure it can be a problem. There has to be a comprehensive plan. There must be a plan, I believe. But there has to be a politic will to implement it," he shared to The FREEMAN.

"The drainage systems are clogged with garbage while some are being encroached by private establishments and other structures... The city government has the responsibility to take actions to safeguard the people," the priest said.

Four Cañada sisters from Barangay Sangi, Toledo City who reside in the same village but different houses were reunited on New Year's Day (January 1) after their own families were evacuated from the flooded areas and were sent to Toledo City's huge complex.

They narrated that rain started to pour at 1 p.m. at the barangay and before nighttime, rainwater already flooded their homes.

Their families were rescued from their respective houses since floodwaters outside were already neck deep.

They lamented that they missed to pick anything even clothes since the height of the water escalated quickly and so they decided to leave home.

They said there was a new infrastructure project underway at the barangay but no drainage was put up that made rain water to accumulate in the residential zone.

Moreover, the local disaster head in Toledo City admitted the severe flooding opened discussions on the issue of the drainage and may possibly be tackled by the city's legislative body.

Toledo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) head Alex Abella said the acting mayor convened the different department heads at 9 a.m. on New Year's Day to assess the situation and to plot the next actions.

He said the issue on the drainage problem was also taken up and will be discussed thoroughly in the next council session.

For Abella, the flooding was caused by the continuous rains that occurred for 10 hours starting at 2 p.m. until midnight.

PAGASA-Cebu officer-in-charge Alfredo Quiblat, Jr. explained that the rains were not yet the effect of tropical cyclone Agaton.

He said series of thunderstorms formed over Toledo City due to rain-inducing weather system – tail end of a cold front. The system moved from southern Luzon and Bicol regions to Visayas area concentrating over Toledo City. (FREEMAN)

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