KORONADAL CITY – Aid started to reach low-lying towns of North Cotabato following heavy rain-induced flash floods over the weekend that left thousands of families homeless.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office XII (DSWD FO XII) begun releasing emergency assistance after local officials of Pikit and Kabacan requested augmentation support for residents severely affected by flooding due to intense rain that caused the Rio Grande de Mindanao, the second-largest river system in the country, to overflow and submerged communities to chest-deep flood waters.

Cezario Joel Espejo, regional director of DSWD-XII, said Wednesday the agency’s disaster response management group deployed to assess the damage brought about by Tropical Depression Ofel logged 24, 232 displaced families, some of them staying along the stretch of Pikit-Kabacan road while others with their relatives in nearby towns.

Of the total figure, 22, 241 families from the 30 villages were recorded in Pikit – a farming community that lies below sea level – while 1,991 families in Kabacan.

As augmentation support for local government units (LGUs) in times of disaster and man-made calamities, the agency, according to Dir. Espejo, immediately provided 500 boxes of family food packs and 995 plastic matting for affected residents in Kabacan.

“We are going to keep on providing augmentation support to LGUs to help people in need and affected by calamities,” Dir. Espejo said.

Based on the agency’s ocular validation report, flood victims immediate needs include laminated sacks, family food packs, sleeping mats, and hygiene kits.

“Our field workers are closely working with our partners from the LGU of Pikit for the release within the day of their emergency assistance request,” Dir. Espejo said. (Reports from JBM, AAA, JDD, YM, PLB / DSWD)