10 August 2009

SBMA rescuers continue assisting Botolan evacuees

BOTOLAN, Zambales — The emergency response team of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), along with some medical staff, will remain in this town to assist evacuees whose numbers continue to rise days after floodwaters inundated 10 barangays here.

At the instruction of SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, who conferred with Botolan Mayor Rogelio Yap on Friday, the SBMA Rescue Team has set up its evacuation command post at the Porac Elementary School here.

Two doctors and some nurses were also stationed by the SBMA on 12-hour shifts at the said command post to augment two other doctors and some nurses sent there by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The SBMA medical team is backed up by an ambulance.

Arreza said the combined rescue and medical staff will stay in the area “for as long as the area is under a state of emergency,” referring to the declaration by Zambales Governor Amor Deloso on Friday..

The emergency unit has instructions to prioritize giving medical attention to women and children, as well as to provide noodles and bottled water to flood victims, Arreza added.

The SBMA’s emergency response team is composed of 14 rescue operators from the SBMA Fire Department, who were among the first to respond to calls for help from Botolan officials on Thursday, when a lahar dike protecting the municipality broke during heavy rains brought about by typhoon “Kiko.”

The team was later augmented by 25 rescue operators from the SBMA Law Enforcement Department, who brought in five rubber boats to evacuate residents from flooded areas.

Other rescuers who assisted in the evacuation were from the Philippine National Red Cross, Olongapo City Rescue Team, Philippine National Police, the Naval Education Training Command of the Philippine Navy, Philippine Army, and the Philippine Coast Guard-Subic Station.

According to Mayor Yap, the flooding was caused by the overflow of the Baquilan and Balin-Baquero rivers that both drain from the Mt. Pinatubo area.

The overflow destroyed a five-kilometer length of the San Juan lahar dike, thus sending floodwaters to 10 barangays in the municipality, he added.

The flood affected about 1,000 families who began evacuating to temporary shelters at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, Yap said.

Most of the flood victims were brought to evacuation centers at the Porac Elementary School and Bucao Elementary School, both in this town.

Arreza also said that lahar deposits from Mt. Pinatubo had collapsed the approach of the Bucao bridge, cutting off access from south Zambales to the Botolan town proper and five other municipalities in the north, including the capital town of Iba.

Gov. Deloso had reportedly ordered the construction of a temporary steel bridge to fill the gap. In the meantime, those who would like to go to northern parts of Zambales would have to take a roundabout route passing through Pangasinan, Arreza said.

In the meantime, Arreza said that the SBMA and the PNRC have set up a joint desk at the lobby of Bldg. 229, the main SBMA office in the Subic Bay Freeport.

Arreza said the agencies are soliciting donations in cash or kind to be delivered to Botolan flood victims. Prospective donors may arrange details with the SBMA at telephone numbers (047) 252-SBMA, added Arreza. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza (right) confers with Botolan Mayor Rogelio Yap at the height of rescue operations on Friday.