TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan (Updated December 8, 8:11 pm) — Week-long rainfall brought by the Northeast Monsoon and tail-end of a cold front, caused severe flooding in 28 towns and three cities in Cagayan and Isabela provinces.

Water from the Cagayan and Siffu rivers overflowed submerging residential areas and farmlands, forcing more than 94,000 people to evacuate. The water level of rivers rose to 12.4 meters, too high from its average level of 3 to 4 meters.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) situation report, as of December 7, 401 barangays and 54,110 were affected by the rains and flooding that hit the two provinces. Police reported three deaths in Isabela and one in Cagayan.

At the height of the flooding (December 5-6), 19 and 50 roads and bridges became unpassable. Power interruptions were also experienced across the two provinces from December 3 to December 7 with currents yet to return in Baggao, Sanchez Mira, Sta. Praxedes and this city.

TRAPPED. Rescuers were dispatched by the local governments to assist trapped residents like this photo by Task Force Lingkod Cagayan, taken in one of the submerged villages of Iguig town.

Capital cities of Tuguegarao of Cagayan and Ilagan of Isabela declared the State of Calamity on December 5 due to severe flooding in its major roads, bridges, and dense residential areas.

By Friday, with 18 towns submerged, the provincial government declared the whole province of Cagayan under the State of Calamity. Governor Manuel Mamba suspended all classes and work except those involved in relief and rescue operations. The official said this is the worst flooding they experienced in decades.

According to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PRRMC), the flooding reached 234 villages from 25 municipalities, affecting 30,260 families. Of these figures, 167 barangays were evacuated, with 3,591 families temporarily sheltered in 117 evacuation centers.  

In Isabela, 27 towns and Cauayan City also experienced flooding, according to the PDRRMC. Severely flooded were the municipalities of Alicia, Benito Soliven, Cabagan, Cabatuan, Luna, San Isidro, San Mariano, San Mateo, and San Pablo.

Rains and floods affected more than 22,000 families from 155 barangays. Meanwhile, 11,390 families evacuated with some residents initiating adopt-a-neighbor scheme while waiting for the water to subside.

Landslides were reported in the towns Baggao, and Sachez-Mira takes leaving it parts of the roads inaccessible. In Claveria, the Ilocos-Cagayan highway remains impassable after slides destroyed sections of the way. Meanwhile, in Sta. Ana, a landslip, buried five houses.

Cagayan Valley has yet to recover from the damage brought by Tropical Storm Quiel in November when the incessant the recent monsoon rains struck the region.

SEA OF LOGS. (Above) The extensive flooding also brought logs and branches in the Siffu River that blocked the flow of water, generating reactions from netizens and officials, who demanded the immediate stop of illegal logging operations in the area. Photo by Le Coeur De Leon. (Below) The same situation happened across coastal towns of Cagayan after Typhoon Quiel battered the province as seen in this photo in Pamplona town.
Photo by Nathaniel Fabian.
Cagayan River Basin

Cagayan Heritage Preservation Society told Nordis that flooding in the Cagayan Valley has been part of the people’s way of life. Every year, 4 to 8 typhoons occur, bringing heavy rains, causing the Cagayan River and its tributaries to swell. Most areas within the river basin are prone mostly to flooding, landslides, and flash floods, with 679 barangays highly at risk.

The Cagayan River, the largest river in the Philippines, and its tributaries traverse the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela. The river is the main drainage of the Cagayan River Basin that lies between the Sierra Madre and Caraballo mountains. All rains from these higher areas pour down through the river and exits to the sea in Cagayan.

A 2015 study of the University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Forestry and Natural Resources warned of the growing extent of flood susceptible areas by 2020 and more extensive by 2050. PAGASA has already projected drier summer seasons yet wetter rainy seasons in the basin by 2020, expecting a higher volume of rain in the future. # nordis.net

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