SALVAGING EFFORTS. Residents living beside the Taviran River in Barangay Taviran, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, try to save whatever valuables in their homes as the water continue to rise on Wednesday (Nov. 2, 2022). School classes in Cotabato City and Maguindanao have been suspended up to Friday following the flooding wrought by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng. (Photo courtesy of Taviran resident Zumar Kadil Buayan Salik)

COTABATO CITY – Classes at all levels, both private and public, have been suspended in this flood-stricken city and nearby Maguindanao towns starting Wednesday, officials said.

Mayor Bruce Matabalao announced the cancellation of classes to allow the continuation of clearing operations in flooded schools from Wednesday to Friday.

Thirty-six of Cotabato City’s 37 villages have been affected by floods spawned by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng last week, affecting 67,956 households or 337,980 individuals.

“Our assessment on other all villages is continuing,” Matabalao said.

In Upi, Maguindanao, government works and classes at all levels were also suspended starting Wednesday until Nov. 4 as recovery efforts continue following the floods wrought by Paeng.

Across the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), 468 villages have been affected with 223,256 households or 570,285 individuals, mostly in Maguindanao provinces.

In an update, BARMM Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said the number of fatalities remained at 53 with 12 still missing and 38 injured.

Through the BARMM Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READi), the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) reported that 402 houses were partially damaged and 339 destroyed.

The calamity also damaged PHP225.7 million worth of agricultural products and farm animals in 28 of 36 towns in Maguindanao.

"BARMM and local governments of the province have intensified relief operations to cushion the impact of the calamity on affected families," Sinarimbo said.

Personnel from the BARMM’s Ministry of Public Works (MPW) have also been repairing damaged roads and bridges with the help of offices from the Department of Public Works and Highways in nearby regions that sent heavy equipment to help in the recovery works.

As of Wednesday morning, the BARMM READi reported the rising water level of the Rio Grande de Mindanao.

Residents living beside the Taviran River, one of the tributaries of the Rio Grande, tried to save their homes and valuables as water hyacinth carried by river water from upstream pinned their houses.

“This is the first time that we experienced this kind of flood, it reached above head, and the water lilies are destroying our homes,” Kamsa Enggo Saldin of Barangay Taviran said.

“The water hyacinth is so thick that we can even walk over it,” he added.

Laguna, Cavite also suspend classes

Laguna and Cavite also suspended classes at all levels from Nov. 2 to 5 to allow areas to recover from the impact of the severe tropical storm.

"Dahilan sa malaking pinsalang dulot ng bagyong Paeng sa buong lalawigan ng Laguna ay suspendido ang klase sa lahat ng antas sa pampubliko at pribadong paaralan simula Nov. 2 hanggang (Because of the huge damage due to severe tropical storm Paeng in the entire province of Laguna, classes in all levels in public and private schools are suspended from Nov. 2 until) Nov. 5, 2022," Hernandez said in a statement Tuesday night.

Laguna and Cavite were placed under Signal No. 3 when Paeng hit Southern Luzon.

“Dahil malakas kayong lahat sa akin: #WalangPasok from Nov 2-5 sa lahat ng antas sa buong Cavite (Because you are all dear to me, I suspend classes in all levels from Nov. 2 to 5 throughout Cavite). Let’s help each other recover first,” Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Hernandez called on all the Laguna residents to work together as the province is bouncing back from the Saturday storm.

"Magtulungan po tayo para makabangon ang ating lalawigan (Let's help each other so our province will rise again), Hernandez said. (With reports from Ivan Saldajeno/PNA)