Flashflood disrupts lives of Batangas residents recovering from Taal eruption
BATANGAS CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Heavy rains on Sunday afternoon, June 7, triggered what frightened residents of Barangay Buso-Buso in Laurel town, Batangas, thought was lahar flow.
Brgy. Buso-Buso is within the 7 kilometer radius danger zone when Taal Volcano was placed under Alert Level 2. It has been barely 5 months since residents fled their homes because of the volcano's eruption.
A report released by the Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) classified the incident as flashflood and not lahar flow due to the much larger volume of water compared to the presence of debris.
(Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said that the rains triggered a lahar flow. We regret the error.)
Initial data also showed that 25 houses were directly affected by the flooding with no casualties reported. There are over 600 households in Brgy. Buso-Buso.
“Hindi namin alam kung saan kami tatakbo. Mga 30 minutes sobrang laki ng baha, may lampas tao sa ibang lugar. Nag-iiyakan ang mga tao dahil hindi alam ang gagawin,” Sangguniang Kabataan Chairperson Cyrus Mendoza said.
(We didn’t know where to go. For 30 minutes, the flood was huge, even towering over people in other places. Everyone was crying because they didn’t know what to do.)
Mendoza said it was around 4pm on Sunday when the rains started, followed shortly by the rampaging lahar which damaged homes in their barangay located at the foot of the mountain.
“Unti-unti kaming nagsisimula tapos nangyari ito, parang bumalik lahat nang pumutok ang bulkan. May mga bahay na hindi pa nagagawa, puno na ulit ng putik at baha. Ang mga bangin dito pantay pantay na rin dahil sa lahar,” he added.
(We have slowly been starting anew but we felt like we were back to the days when the volcano erupted. There are houses still being re-built that are now filled with mud and flood. The gorges here are now leveled because of the lahar.)
Life has not gotten back to normal after the Taal erupted at the start of the year, compounded by the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic. Major local government projects that could have helped the residents resume their disrupted lives have been put on hold because of the pandemic.
Following Taal Volcano's eruption, Phivolcs tagged the entire volcano island as a permanent danger zone while buffer zones cover several lakeshore barangays in Talisay, Agoncillo, San Nicolas, and Laurel in Batangas province.
Mendoza is appealing to the local and provincial government to help them get back on their feet.
“Ang panawagan ko po kay Governor [Hermilando] Mandanas at kay Mayor [Joan Amo] na sana po ay mabigyan ng pansin ang aming barangay, na sana ay tulungan kami na maging normal ang lahat, ang mga bahay na sira ay mabigyan ng materyales para hindi na sila mangamba. Sa kalsada naman, sanamatanggal ang putik,” he pleaded.
(My appeal to Governor [Hermilando] Mandanas and to Mayor [Joan Amo] is to please give attention to our village, that they can help us return to our normal lives, that the families whose houses were destroyed will be given materials so that they would not be afraid anymore, and for the streets to be cleared of mud.)
An assessment of the area will be coordinated by the provincial government with the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau.
Meanwhile, the local government of Laurel is requesting to relocate 30 families to the interim evacuation center in the town of Ibaan.
Last March 19, PHIVOLCS downgraded the status of Taal Volcano to alert level 1.
“Alert Level 1 means that the volcano is still in abnormal condition and should not be interpreted that unrest has ceased,” Phivolcs said.
The agency has earlier warned that prolonged and heavy rainfall may generate post-eruption lahars on major channels particularly in some areas of Laurel town where there is a plain and bigger drainage of rivers. – Rappler.com