Cagayan under state of calamity due to 'worst' floods in province's history

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 14) — Cagayan has been placed under a state of calamity due to devastating floods which local officials described as the worst in the province's history.

Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba made the recommendation to declare a state of calamity on Friday. This was approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) in a special session on Saturday.

“[Ito’] dahil sa nararanasang pinakamalaki at pinakamalawak na baha sa kasaysayan ng probinsiya (This is because of the biggest and most widespread flooding” in the province's history),” the provincial information office said in a statement.

"Ang Cagayan ngayon parang ocean po ito (Cagayan now is almost like an ocean)," Mamba said in a 'Laging Handa' media briefing, which focused on the situation in flood-ravaged Cagayan. “It’s almost on its third day pero ang taas pa rin ng tubig dito (but the water is still high)."

The governor said they are asking the management of Magat Dam to stop releasing water for now to prevent further flooding.

At 5 a.m. Saturday, three spill gates of the dam were open, down from seven gates Friday morning.

The provincial board resolution said Cagayan “suffered substantial damage” after nonstop rains caused widespread flooding as well as flash floods and landslides over the past days.

The state of calamity declaration will allow the local government to tap into calamity funds for faster relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The heavy floods killed nine people – four in a landslide, two drowned, while three were electrocuted, according to the provincial government.

Forced evacuation in Tuguegarao

The city council of Tuguegarao, the provincial capital, earlier approved the disaster officials’ recommendation to declare a state of calamity.

Mayor Jeffrey Soriano said he ordered a forced evacuation at 12 noon to prevent further casualties. He said the people were shocked when floodwaters suddenly rose on Friday, leaving several of them stranded in their flooded homes.

“Ang mga tao more than 200 po ang nakalinya diyan nagpaparescue. Gabing gabi na po, sobrang lakas po ng agos ng tubig at zero visibility,” Soriano said.

[Translation: More than 200 people were lined up to be rescued. It was late at night, water current was strong, and there was zero visibility.]

He said one rescuer was electrocuted at the height of rescue operations. It is unclear if this incident is among the three electrocutions recorded by the provincial government.


Flood-ravaged Cagayan dominated social media since Friday as the public called for the rescue of people trapped in their flooded houses.

Mamba said some people are still stranded on roofs of houses.

Netizens sought accountability from the national government. Vice President Leni Robredo provided updates on her Twitter page about rescue operations.

Shortly before noon of Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was the first among high officials to address the Cagayan situation at the 'Laging Handa' briefing. He said additional forces were deployed to augment rescue efforts, while helicopters were on their way to Cagayan and Isabela to conduct aerial rescue.

Mamba said moving forward, a "holistic approach" from the government is needed to address environmental problems such as the denudation of forests and heavy siltation of riverbeds. "All the suffering that we are experiencing now should serve as a lesson to all of us here and it should also open the eyes of the national government."