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Davao City, Philippines

Sea surge is real

September 13, 2019 - Friday 4:09 AM by Jimmy Laking

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Somewhere in the voluminous photo files of the late media icon Rene B. Lumawag is a series of pictures taken on the same spot fronting the sea along Magsaysay Park.

The first photo, taken in the 1990s, showed the waters on low tide estimated at more than 10 feet below the ground level.

The second showed the level to have gone higher in the early 2000s. The last photo, taken probably some five years ago, showed the water to be almost on the same level with the ground, and the only reason it did not swamp the park was the presence of a concrete barrier.

That the sea is reclaiming what used to be part of its domain is a reality now unfolding in Davao City.

Nope, the city is not sinking as does the city of Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, but climate change has already rounded the bend as seen in the sea surges and giant waves that pound communities along Davao City’s coastal communities time and again.

Several times over the past year, several households located along the Davao River and along the coasts have had to be evacuated in the face of sea surges, a phenomenon unheard of in the late 1990s. Climate change is no joke and it is already upon us.

So it comes like a fresh wind of change to know that the Davao City government seeks to permanently move a total of 15,000 households located along rivers and waterways to safer grounds.

This to remove them away from harm’s way in the form of severe flashfloods as well as rising sea surges.

In addition, City Hall is also keen to implement a no-build policy in Calinan and Tugbok districts that are crisscrossed by six active fault lines.

These revelations were made by Lyndon Leovic L. Ancajas, administrative officer of the Davao City Risk Reduction Management Office, during the Saturday media forum.

He said these long-term measures will ensure no casualties will incur in case of disasters caused by earthquakes, flashfloods and sea surges.

He cited the August 28, 2019 incident as a case in point wherein residents in seven barangays have to evacuate after both the Talomo and Matina rivers overflowed.

Those who remained in their residences were hit by house-deep waters. It was the most severe flashflood to hit the city.

The City Council declared a state of calamity in seven barangays and allocated P50 million as assistance to more than 10,000 individuals.

DRRMO head Rodrigo Bustillo blamed the severe flashfloods on massive surface runoff triggered by massive development upstream.

The DRRMO has classified as no-build zones riversides, waterways, and active fault lines. The DRRMO is also monitoring several coastal communities lashed by sea surges and violent waves.

Ancajas said since earthquakes tend to move upwards, the DRRMO is firm on recommending a no-build policy in areas traversed by fault lines.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has identified six active fault lines, affecting 60 barangays in Tugbok and Calinan districts. Davao City has a total of 182 barangays.