Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan. 26, 2006

Agaton' brings rains, landslides to villages
By Villamor Visaya Jr., Melvin Gascon and Tonette Orejas

ILAGAN, ISABELA - Continuous rains brought by Tropical Depression Agaton since Wednesday have flooded 100 low-lying areas in Isabela's 35 towns and in the cities of Cauayan and Santiago.

In Aurora province, heavy rains have submerged all 24 villages in Casiguran town under two to eight feet of floodwaters, and triggered landslides that isolated the northern parts of the province, Gov. Bellaflor Castillo-Angara told the Inquirer by phone.

The flood, the second to hit Casiguran in three weeks, has forced 25 families to evacuate to the town hall. Four rivers that cut through the town have overflowed.

Reports from the Magat Dam reservoir in Ramon, Isabela, on Thursday showed that the dam's water level has reached 195.13 meters, beyond the normal level. This forced dam officials to open six out of its nine floodgates. Major rivers and creeks in the province have swelled, resulting in massive flooding of low-lying villages, the civil defense office reported.

Major bridges have been closed to vehicular traffic since Wednesday because of the swollen rivers.

In the coastal town of Dinapigue, Mayor Renato Candido said six barangays were isolated by flash floods. He said residents in Barangays Dibulo, Digumased, Bucal Sur, Bucal Norte, Dimaluadi and Ayod were given relief goods.

In Ilagan town, rescuers have been using the town's lone rubber boat in pulling out families from low-lying areas. Mayor Delfinito Albano said they have ferried at least 20 families to safer grounds.

In Baler, the capital town of Aurora, floodwaters in Barangays Buhangin and Cabcab rose up to seven feet on Wednesday night, forcing residents there to flee to high grounds. The water began subsiding on Thursday.

Floodwaters in Diteki and San Isidro villages in San Luis reached up to four feet.

Angara said that while landslides cut off the road network to Casiguran, Dinalungan and Dilasag towns, central Aurora continued to be accessible through the Pantabangan-Canili Road via Nueva Ecija. The Bongabon (Nueva Ecija)-Baler Road was not passable.

Rampaging waters washed away the steel bridge in Dibacong in Casiguran and a temporary bridge in Villa, Ma. Aurora.

In Nueva Vizcaya, Gov. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma sent teams to Barangay Tucal in Solano town to rescue three families trapped by floods in their houses there.

She also suspended work at the provincial capitol as floodwaters submerged residential areas in Bayombong, Solano, Bambang, Villaverde and Bagabag towns.

A report received by the Provincial Disaster Management Council said one person drowned in Barangay Magsaysay in Bayombong. No identity was immediately available.

The council also ordered the evacuation of families living in low-lying areas in Barangays Sta. Lucia and Kinacao in Bagabag and Tucal and Bangar in Solano, which lie along the banks of the overflowing Magat River.

Flooding was also reported in Barangays Calaocan and Almaguer North in Bambang.

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