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Cotabato floods subside, flood victims start returning home

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Some displaced families here have started to return home after the floods started receding, officials said.

As of 7 a.m. yesterday, the water hyacinth that clogged the Rio Grande de Mindanao for at least two weeks were gone, paving the normal flow of river water to the Moro Gulf, according to Army Colonel Prudencio Asto.

Asto, speaking for the 6th Infantry "Kampilan" Division, said soldiers and civilian volunteers have completely removed the water lilies.

But he said the more than 500 soldiers and civilians will continue to crush on coming water lilies from upstream.

Cotabato District Engineer Manuel Viloria said the heavy equipment will continue its operations "because huge chunks of water lilies up stream are soon coming down."

"Its good news for all of us here, the water have subsided," Cotabato City disaster unit chief Sam Mundas said.

The floods submerged at least 200 villages in Maguindanao and Cotabato City's 30 of 37 barangays.

The fast tracking of de-clogging efforts were ordered by President Aquino when he visited the city on Wednesday.

He also ordered the release of funds for the rehabilitation of the Maguindanao marshland to prevent a repeat of the floods that was never seen before in the city.

With the water gone, affected residents in the city have returned but a big number of displaced families remain in evacuation sites because their villages remained under water.

"A big number of evacuees have returned home, they continue to receive relief goods in their homes," Sorahayda Taha, DSWD-12 regional director, told reporters.

In Maguindanao, Governor Toto Mangudadatu said relief operations have been intensified after the DSWD-12 and DSWD in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao joined hands in serving the needs of thousands of displaced families.

Classes will remain suspended in areas that remained underwater, according to Baratucal Caudang of the Department of Education in ARMM.

He ordered public school teachers to enjoin parent-teachers association to clear school buildings with mud and other debris "so class rooms are clean when the pupils return to school." (PNA)




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