KIDAPAWAN CITY – An overnight downpour in North Cotabato has triggered flash floods and submerged vast tracts of rice fields and residential areas in the adjoining towns of Matalam, M’lang and Kabacan until early Tuesday.
Motorists along the M’lang-Matalam national highway were stranded as floodwater submerged a portion of the highway in Barangay Malamote of Matalam town.
“It took some four hours before water subsided along the particular stretch of the highway that stranded hundreds of motorists,” Barangay Malamote councilor Romeo Magbanua said in a radio interview on Tuesday morning.
About 5,000 families have been affected by the floods in Matalam town, while in Kabacan, some 800 families have evacuated to safer grounds, according to village officials.
At the Poblacion of the same municipality, Zenaida Andalan, a store owner, said the heavy downpour started late Monday night, and floods swamped low-lying communities up to 4 a.m. Tuesday.
“Floodwater rose to as high as chest-deep or above an average person’s height of five feet in some areas,” she said.
In Kabacan town, floods also submerged more than 200 hectares of rice fields. David Don Saure, Kabacan disaster risk reduction officer, said recently transplanted rice seedlings have been damaged and could trigger a shortage of palay production in the coming months.
“Once the palay (unhusked) grains are flooded, we consider it damaged and failure on the part of the farmers,” Saure said, adding that assessment on the extent of the damages is still going on.
Kabacan is the leading rice-producing town in North Cotabato.
North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco has ordered the provincial agriculture office to assess the extent of damages and extend assistance to the affected families. (PNA)