‘State of calamity’ raised in Pampanga town

Local officials of the municipality of Minalin in Pampanga on Wednesday declared the town under a “state of calamity” after torrential rains battered Central Luzon and caused widespread flooding in the province.

Responding to the request of Mayor Edgar Flores, the Sangguniang Bayan passed Resolution No. 024 S. 2016 as incessant rains since Saturday caused the swelling of major waterways here particularly at the Minalin taildike.

Classes in all levels in the town have been suspended since Monday as major roads remained submerged under water.

“As Metro Manila and Central Luzon has (sic) been bombarded by incessant and intense rains this past week due to low pressure areas and southwest monsoon, the town with its tributaries and dikes was not spared, with the overtopping of some portion of the dike threatening hundreds of families within striking distance and of thousands with impending flood,” said the town council in the resolution.

The Minalin taildike is at the extreme downstream portion of the Megadike, a multi-million peso mega-structure built to contain lahar flowing from the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo.

Following years of continuous siltation, the embankment of the taildike, which is supposed to protect the people here and those of nearby Sto. Tomas town from flashfloods, is easily overtopped by water drained from the Gugu creek of Bacolor town.

“The whole machinery of the municipal government through the leadership of the Municipal Mayor, has been mobilized thereon to prevent any further disaster that could befall the town, but extreme measures (sic) has to be done,” stated the resolution that was unanimously approved by the council.

As of 8 a.m. on August 18, however, water level at the taildike subsided by about two feet below the spilling level at the dike’s lowest embankment in Barangay Sta. Catalina.

Meanwhile, Mayor Flores said that while the Sto. Tomas-Minalin road remains flooded, the Tabun Road had been opened to light vehicles to serve as an alternate route in going to Guagua, Bacolor and the City of San Fernando.

Pampanga Vice Governor Dennis “Delta” Pineda on Wednesday thanked the Department of Public Works and Highways for considering his recommendation to raise the level of the Sta. Ursula Bridge at the boundary of Minalin and Guagua after reconstruction works and its concrete girders there blocked the flow of floodwaters toward Pasac River last Tuesday.

Antonio Molano, DPWH director in Central Luzon, said the bridge will be raised by 1.5 meters to 2 meters. With a length of 135.80 linear meters, the bridge serves as an evacuation route of Minalin to Guagua town.

Worth P79,233,606 million, it replaced the wood and steel bridge first put up when Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was President.

“I am thankful that the DPWH has listened to us in the local governments. Our aim is to ensure that our constituents are safe and that lifelines during disasters are also safe,” the vice governor said, referring to residents in the City of San Fernando, Bacolor, Sto. Tomas, Minalin, Guagua and Sasmuan towns.

Three months ago and ahead of the rainy season, Gov. Lilia Pineda sent two backhoes on barges to desilt Sapang Labuan to be able to drain out the San Fernando-Sto. Tomas-Minalin Tail Dike and the Gugu River toward Pasac River and finally to Manila Bay.

On Tuesday, several concrete girders laid out by the contractor on the Labuan channel blocked floodwaters that threatened to spill to Barangays Sta. Catalina and San Franciso in Minalin and seven Betis villages in Guagua.

Director Molano said the girders will be removed. –Albert Lacanlale

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