In an interview with a local AM radio station, Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) Mayor Vicente Emano expressed his dismay that his city was not warned on the actual strength of Tropical Storm Sendong (international name: Washii) which devastated Mindanao and reported to have claimed more than 600 lives already.
“Wala naman talagang sinabi na ganoon ang mangyayari,” Emano said.”Kami ang tinamaan ng mata ng bagyo, hindi na po sinabi yan. Wala pong nagsabi na ganito ang darating na bagyo sa amin, wala man lang bulletin, wala man lang nakapagsabi na we will be in the eye of the storm,” he added.
One reason that explains the high number of fatalities in the area is the fact that the city of Cagayan de Oro is rarely hit by storms. The last storm that hit the city was in 2009. Because of this, many residents were ill-prepared with the storm as well as with the flash floods that happened in the city.
The said explanation was also affirmed by NDRRMC Executive director Benito Ramos. He said the residents of Cagayan de Oro as well as Iligan City may have been caught by surprise that they were hit by Sendong.
“Hindi eto damay sa usual na path,” Ramos said. “Ang usual na path n’ya ay Central Visayas. Kung hagip ang Central Mindanao, ang experience ng ating mga kababayan d’yan, ang pinakamataas na ay 60-millimeters ng tubig na madala ng bagyo. Ang nangyari, 181-millimeters ang dinala n’ya,” he added.
Ramos added that the large amount of rains(181 millimeters in 24 hours) caused the Cagayan River to overflow, dumping water to the 13 barangays along the riverbanks.
In Cagayan De Oro, 30,403 individuals are now staying in 19 evacuation centers, while in Iligan, there are 9,640 individuals in 15 centers.