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Flood in the time of El Niño: Rivers overflow once more as close to half of Bacolod goes under water

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Torrential rains brought by the southwest monsoon made more active by the storm Goring dumped rains more than the waterways and sewers of this city can handle and made almost half of the baramgays here go under water.

Like a repeat of last month’s flood brought by Egay but on a larger scale, 25 of the 60 barangays (villages) were sunk by water from rivers and creeks that overflowed their banks as torrential rains pounded the city since Sunday, 27 August 2023.

“It was not just the southern part that went under water,” physician Anna Maria Laarni Pornan told DNX from the command center of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office here where staff were plotting the flooding on computers and readying food for close to 6,000 residents who had to flee their homes.

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As government schools filled up with evacuees from the baramgays, Acting Mayor El Cid Familiaran ordered the suspension of classes in all levels in both public and private schools, and suspended work in national and local government offices for today.

Familiaran issued Executive Order 47, Series of 2023 after the City Disaster Council recommended the suspension amid continuing torrential rains and the use of some public schools for temporary shelter of evacuees.

Last night, a stretch of Lacson Street fronting a popular mall was not passable as floodwaters rose in the middle of the street as two waterways in the north – Mandalagan and Bamago Rivers – overflowed their banks, halted traffic, and forced residents to flee their homes.

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Lacson is a major road connecting the city to the northern part of the province and, for the first time in recent years, became unpassable.

Last month, a part of Araneta Sreeet, the major road connecting the city to the south, also became unpassable as floodwaters rose in front of a major mall.

Unlike last month when the rains fell heavy and fast – at least three days worth in the same number of hours – the rains fell heavy and steady since Sunday, Jose Evram Vera told DNX.

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Vera, who heads the Research and Planning Section of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, pointed out the amount of rain water averaged 27mm per square meter since Sunday, 27 August 2023.

By Monday, nine waterways were classified critical before noontime including Mandalagan River, Mambuloc Creek, Lupit River, Magsungay River, Pahanocoy Creek, Cabiguan River, Maupay Creek, Banago River, and Sum-ag River.

Mandalagan and Banago Rivers, both in the north, later overflowed.

The recent floodung incidents here came in the midst of the El Niño phenomenon that government forecasts to bring extended dry spells until next year.

As this developed, Councilor Al Victor Espino said a deeper look into the flooding problem needs to be done.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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