Over a hundred families affected by the recent torrential rains and flood in Claveria, Cagayan received food packs from the combined forces of Cagayan State University (CSU) College of Law students, SCINTILLA JURIS Professional Confraternity (SJ), 17th Infantry “Do or Die” Battalion, Philippine Army, and the 10th “KAPAYAPAAN” Marine Battalion Landing Team, Philippine Navy (Marines) on October 29, 2020.

With 180 family food packs, the team was the first to provide relief assistance in Barangay Nagsabaran which was isolated during the peak of the heavy rains and flood last week.

Donors from SJ and the whole CSU Law community poured in monetary support, various food packs, clothes, medicine, and other donations through the CSU Law Student Government (LSG) and SJ officers.

As if giving a glimpse of the people’s experience in the area, heavy rains welcomed the group as the distribution in the barangay hall began.

The hall’s “multipurpose gymnasium, which supposedly serves as an evacuation area, was flooded waist up, said Barangay Captain Clarence Tagala Palumares. Palumares shared his experiences during the heavy rains, recalling the events during one night when the water level was at its highest. He said he, like his constituents, barely had sleep during the overnight rainfall.

Reports from authorities state that millions worth of property, rice lands, and livestock in this coastal town were destroyed by the flood. Landslides were also reported in Claveria and its neighboring towns of Pamplona and Sanchez Mira. “Sobrang naapektuhan yung barangay namin. Tignan mo yung mga palay, lubog sa baha. Pati stocks ng NFA rice, palay, binhi, at abonot nalubog din ng baha,” the barangay chairman said while pointing at the sacks of rice they can no longer utilize. “Wala kaming magawa. Wala kaming naisalbang mga pananim, pati mga alagang baboy at manok hindi namin naisalba. Hanggang baywang pataas kasi yung baha. Kahit sana sariling buhay ko na lang wag lang sa iba,” he said.

It was at this point that the Barangay Captain shed tears of sorrow, wiping his tears away using his shirt as he recounted the events over the past weeks.

CAUSE OF FLOOD

The cause of the heavy rains and flood, PAGASA’s Weather Specialist and Meteorologist Romeo Ganal, Jr. explained that various weather disturbances and the Calvario mountain in the area contributed to the concentration of rains.

Ganal, who is also a law student and part of the volunteer team, said this is the contributory effect of orographic lifting. He said the Calvario mountain stops the clouds from the northeast direction. “Naiipon yung ulap sa western side, at dito concentrated ang ulan. Once flowing kasi yung hangin sa northeast, na-iistandby yung ulap sa side na ito ng Calvario at itong pag-uulan halos dito sa area ng buong Claveria even Sanchez Mira at part ng Calanasan, andiyan lahat yung concentration ng ulan previously,” Ganal said.

He added that, as shared by one kagawad of the barangay, the barangay experienced nonstop rains on Saturday until Monday morning caused by combined effects of Northeasterly Surface Windflow and Tail End of Frontal System.

Ganal said one contributing factor of the flooding was the Cadcadir River which surrounded the barangay, allowing both confluence and backflow of water. “Pag sumobra yung ulan galing sa upstream ng area, kung titignan mo yung pattern ng bundok, ito yung reef (basin) niya pag umulan sa bundok, halos papunta na sa Cadcadir River at yung buong tubig ng Cadcadir River bumabagal ang daloy o naiistagnat dito sa palikong bahagi malapit sa barangay na may katangian ng “oxbow river” pero dahil sa malakas yung agos, cinucut ng tubig mula sa ilog itong area na ito at ieextend na yung backflow ng tubig hanggang doon sa floodplain – yung area na nandoon na sila (barangay),” he said.

Ganal also clarified that Typhoon Quinta did not directly contribute to the heavy rains experienced in the northern part of Cagayan. The Trough of Quinta managed to reach only southern part of Isabela, Ifugao, and Benguet, and part of Ilocos Sur, he said.

The weather specialist said that the build up of rain bearing clouds current experienced up north are caused by the collision of the winds brought by the northeasterly surface windflow and the mountains.”Yung malakas na ulan na iyon, nasasala ulit ng bundok yung ulap at dahil dito kinakalat niya yung ulap from west going to east. Kaya sa Southern Cagayan mostly maulap lang pero pag-akyat mo simula ng Lal-lo going westward or eastward, mas maulan na doon,” he added.

MILITARY SUPPORT

The journey to the said barangay was in itself a challenge as the military trucks of the 17th IB and 10th MBLT carrying the goods and volunteers traversed the muddy roads leading to the barangay, braving the light rains during the almost 30-minute trip.

The 17th IB and MBLT 10 through their Commanding Officers Lt. Col. Angelo Saguiguit (GSC) PA and Lt. Col. Rowan Rimas PN (M) coordinated with each other to provide mobility and security for the activity. 2Lt. Fernie V. Lua of the 17th IB said their unit is committed in providing community support and development operations in delivering services with the LGU.

The 17th IB previously had Claveria town under its area of responsibility but has been transferred under the care of the Philippine Marines’ MBLT 10. “Natutuwa yung mga kasamahan namin para sa law students ng CSU at sa SCINTILLA JURIS dahil initiative nila ito, at overwhelming kasi nakita namin na kahit students ka, alam naming busy, meron talaga silang time as volunteers para makatulong dito sa bayan ng Claveria,” Lt. Lua said.

Lua added that although Claveria is no longer their area, the 17th IB is willing to help the Marines in their efforts in the coastal town especially in disaster response and relief operations.

Meanwhile, 1Lt. Francis Ramirez said the MBLT 10 is that aside from fulfilling internal security and territorial defense operations, their team is dedicated to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

The Marines have recently concluded their disaster response team training, 1 LT Ramirez said. He added that equipment and boats from the Provincial Government greatly helped them in their operations during the flood.

Barangay Captain Palumares shared to the group that, upon seeing the military trucks approaching their barangay hall, he felt a sudden rush of joy knowing people would be sending in help to them after enduring a difficult crisis.

The uniformed men of the two battalions helped in the distribution of the family gift packs. Covid protocols were also followed and maintained to ensure safe distribution of goods. This is the first time that CSU Law collaborated with the two battalions for a relief effort.

THREATS, PREPARATIONS AHEAD

As of this writing, residents downstream continue to experience moderate to heavy rains, posing similar risks as that of weeks before– a fact that the town government and barangay Nagsabaran is preparing for once again. Captain Palumares said they are very lucky to have been chosen as recipients by the team.

The activity was made possible through the help of the local government unit’s Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) headed by its chief Joseph A. Villanueva. “Lubos po kaming nagpapasalamat sa tulong po na naibigay sa amin. Kahit na gaano man ito kalaki o kaliit, parang nakakapagpangiti na rin sa aming lugar. Ang pagdating n’yo ay malaking bahagi na para sa amin. Sana ay hinding-hindi n’yo kami makakalimutan dito kapag kayo ay nakapagtapos na sa pag-aaral,” the barangay captain said. – (Gerard Josef T. Lucena; photos from Jervees Herrera and GJ Lucena)