San Miguel town rises over the flood

PIA Press Release 2008/08/08

San Miguel town rises over the flood

Iloilo City (8 August) -- At the height of the onslaught of typhoon "Frank" last June 21, the town of San Miguel, located 17 kilometers from here, became a focus of the media because of reports that the Aganan River Irrigation System Dam in said town was in danger of collapsing under the pressure of the rampaging floodwater.

It was no ordinary floodwater though, but one with a magnitude that was not yet witnessed even by the older generation in their lifetime.

But the decades-old dam, which became a popular picnic destination in the 1960s and was renovated by the government through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) under a Japanese government-funded program, withstood the devastating deluge.

Nevertheless, the flood was so heavy it rose over and rushed past the dam and lunged down the river, creating a swatch of destruction along its path. Aganan River, one of Iloilo's major river systems wth headwaters in Alimodian town, passes through San Miguel and Pavia towns.

After the initial radio report about the flooding threat in the municipality headed by Mayor Greg S. Villarico, San Miguel somehow escaped media attention due to breaking developments about the havoc wrought by the typhoon in other affected areas in Iloilo and other parts of Western Visayas.

A check with Mayor Villarico himself later revealed data and information that helped conjure up a story about the effects of the typhoon on the town and the lives of hundreds of San Migueleños.

San Miguel is a member of the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Edocomic Development Council (MIGEDC).

Based on the report collated by the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council, the flooding totally destroyed more than 200 houses and inflicted partial damage on more than 400 others in Barangays Igtambo, Sta. Cruz and Sto. Niño and poblacion barangays 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15, all located downstream.

It also damaged the municipal slaughterhouse and plant nursery. It also did not spare a construction and hardware store nearby. The flood rose so high that it flowed over the bridge that connects the poblacion with four of its barangays and the municipalities of Alimodian, Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara.

The heavy rains spawned by the typhoon also caused the swelling of creeks elsewhere in the municipality and caused damages to agriculture and properties.

The total damages on agriculture, infrastructure, and properties were estimated to have reached millions of pesos.

Villarico said the municipal government had immediately evacuated families from flood-affected areas to the town's central elementary school and other government buildings and provided them with relief goods out of its calamity funds. It also provided financial assistance to families whose houses were damaged by the flood ranging from P500.00 for partially damaged ones to P1,500 for those hat were totally damaged.

The chief municipal executive realized how modest the amount was but said that somehow it could help the affected families start rebuild or repair their houses.

Villarico acknowledged the help of the national government and provincial government of Iloilo, other local government units and institutions, the private and business sectors, and even kind-hearted groups and individuals including San Migueleños who are staying outside the country.

As of now, affected families have left the evacuation centers and returned to their own communities where they have stayed for decades to start all over again, fervently hoping that kind of flood won't happen again.

Likewise, the municipal government has started taking steps to rehabilitate its damaged facilities and enhance its coping measures in times of natural calamities for the benefit of its constituents. (PIA) - Timeline 2008