Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) Head Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. lauded the community-based disaster groups in the islet of Kinatarkan, municipality of Santa Fe, north of Cebu for keeping themselves together amidst the disasters.
The local officials claimed that their respective local risk reduction and management councils are operational. This, after the islet maintained zero casualty in aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda last Nov. 8, 2013 and the sinkhole that suddenly developed in Barangay Langub in the last five days.
Kintarkan Islet is comprised of three barangays: Hagdan, Kinatarkan, and Langub, which local folks called as its acronym, HAG-KI-LANG. The islet has more than 7,000 residents.
Tribunalo visited the area last July 29 together with Engr. Al Emil Berador, officer-in-charge and chief geologist of the Mines Geosciences Bureau 7, who made a rapid assessment on the sink hole.
With the sinkhole, Tribunalo called the islet’s approach as community-based after the affected families evacuated themselves from the danger zone even before the local officials react.
“This is where everybody saw the needs that no one can react except the community,” he said.
Berador urged the local officials to continue monitoring the sinkhole. As of July 29, the hole is no longer expanding.
There are already 48 families or 175 individuals affected by the sinkhole.
Berador also recommended to keep them away from their houses, which were situated within 20 meters from the crack line, while the sink hole is still under observation amidst intermittent rainfall.
After he made the assessment, Berador pacified the worried residents, saying that it is a normal occurrence since an island is made up of limestone and Kinatarkan has many caves. He said, “Kung naa gani sinkhole it means naay cavity sa ilawom (If there is a sinkhole it means there is a hollow ground underneath).”
Rainwater, which carries weak carbonic acid, dissolves limestone into liquid solution. This process may contribute to the normal withering of the cave such that the cave can no longer bear the weight of its roof due to the structures over its head.
“Langub pa na sya, inig ka dugayan ana, kung mahagsa gani na sya, mao na nay gitawag ug sinkhole,” he added.
Berador also stated that this was not the first time a sinkhole occurred in Kintarkan. He gave them a map that identifies a sinkhole that had previously occurred several years ago. Berador cannot determine its exact location but the residents said it could be in Barangay Kinatarcan.
The sinkhole caused a stir in the whole islet of Kinatarkan.
Marcos Gilbuena of Barangay Kinatarkan said they were very worried over the safety of islet after the appearance of the sinkhole.
He said, “Ang amo man gud gikahadlokan basin naay langub sa ilawom sa among balay (What we really feared is that there may be a cave right under our house).”
Berador answered that they should determine the direction of the cave. He said if it points to their houses, it is possible that there is a cave under their houses.
He, however, said that there are instances that caves can withstand the weight of the structures over its head.
Berador recommended that they should identify a relocation site for those living in the disaster prone areas in the islet. He said they will come back to the area for a follow up and risk assessment of their new proposed relocation site.
Langub Barangay Captain Rolando Villacarlos said he hoped that the province would prioritize rehabilitation of Kinatarkan now that the Php 12-billion rehabilitation plan was approved by the President.
With the twin disaster, he said they need to build an evacuation center and a relocation site.
He said he found it difficult to evacuate their constituents during disasters when they do not have an evacuation center at all.
The families currently evacuated to the Seventh Day Adventist Church but this without the consent of their pastor.
Tribunalo said the barangay captain’s concern will be taken up by the PDRRMC when he goes back to the Capitol.
He said, in the meantime, the community should find a temporary evacuation center even if this means offering a space of their houses for the affected families.
In addition, the local officials were asking the Bantayan Electric Company (Banelco) to bring back the electricity in the islet. They said they still have no electricity since the super Typhoon Yolanda hit them.
Aside from the sinkhole, Tribunalo and Berador also visited the typhoon-damaged school buildings and public buildings in the three barangays.
They also turned-over two tents, 17 sleeping mats and 20 mosquito nets to Barangay Langub.