In December 2019, the Municipality of Alcala, Cagayan experienced what they call a 100-year flood — one that occurs once every hundred years. Six barangays were totally submerged, more than 10,000 families affected, and more than 5,000 homes went underwater. There was no typhoon signal, just rain due to monsoon, and water coming from the Sierra Madre, water released by Magat Dam, water coming from everywhere.
We turned to our Filipino scientists to ask why. The Municipality requested Dr. Fernando Siringan, former director of the UP Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) and one of the country’s top river and marine geologists, to conduct a study on flood and riverbank erosion on the Cagayan and Pared Rivers in Alcala.
From July to September 2020, Dr. Siringan and fellow UP geologist Keanu Jershon Sarmiento travelled the length of the Cagayan and Pared Rivers in our town. They looked at rocks and banks, the vegetation, the meandering of the rivers, the width of the channel and flood plain, the depth of the rivers all throughout, the flow of water, the facilities and communities impacted by flood and erosion through time.
The final study describes the confluence of factors that brings severe flood and suffering not just to the town and people of Alcala, but to all towns and peoples throughout the length of the Cagayan River from Isabela to Aparri, Cagayan where the river empties into the sea:
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