01 October 2013

SBMA rescue team shift action to flushing flood debris

After helping out in search, rescue and retrieval operations as floodwaters submerged a large part of the Subic Bay area, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Fire and Rescue Team have now shifted their operations to clearing and flushing mud and other debris left by the receding waters.

“Our job never stopped in rescuing and retrieving. After the flood, SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia has asked the SBMA Rescue Team to help fast-track the removal of debris, so we are now assisting in clearing activities,” SBMA Fire chief Ranny Magno said.

Using SBMA fire trucks, the agency’s volunteer operators continue to see action and are now working in Olongapo City—helping clear the mud from the public market, schools, churches, and streets.

“Everyone has volunteered to extend operations for several hours beyond their regular schedules,” Magno said.

Prior to this, the SBMA Rescue Team had been dispatched to flooded areas since Monday after rivers overflowed in Olongapo and the neighboring town of Subic, Zambales.

The job took them to the villages of Barretto, Sta. Rita, West Bajac-Bajac, and East Bajac-Bajac in Olongapo; Wawandue and Santa Monica in Subic town; Balaybay in Castillejos, Zambales; and in Dinalupihan, Bataan— rescuing residents who were stranded or trapped in flooded areas and bringing them to safety.

“It’s the worst flooding in local history, and in some areas the floodwater was ten feet deep,” Magno noted.

In Balaybay, Castillejos, and in Wawandue, Subic, the rescuers helped retrieve the bodies of landslide victims who were buried under tons of mud.

A total of 19 persons were killed in three separate landslides in Subic, while five perished in Castillejos.

The tragedy was caused by heavy monsoon rains, locally known as “Habagat,” which was enhanced by Typhoon “Odette.” The combination dumped a record volume of rain in the Subic Bay area, resulting in the flooding of low-lying barangays and coastal areas.

Despite the long hours of work, the SBMA rescuers remained in high spirit, Magno said. “Nobody complained, and all were willing to serve beyond the call of duty,” he added.

SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said the agency’s rescue operators are acknowledged to be exemplars of malasakit and volunteerism, which are among the core values of the agency.

The SBMA Rescue Team was the recipient of the 2009 Gawad KALASAG Award: Special Citation and Special Recognition for Best Support Organization/Institution in the national level “for the extraordinary courage, heroism, self-sacrifice, and bravery against all odds in times of emergencies and disasters.”

The award was for the assistance provided by the SBMA team in recovering and retrieving trapped miners in Itogon, Benguet in September 2008.

In January 2011, Magno was conferred the 2010 KALASAG Award by President Aquino for being the best disaster manager in the country. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)

SBMA firemen help clear mud left by the flood at Canda Street in Barangay East Bajac-Bajac, Olongapo City on Sunday. The SBMA Fire and Rescue Team also participated in the massive rescue effort to free residents trapped in their houses in Olongapo City during heavy flooding brought about by monsoon rains last week.