PNC videographer Allan Balbin trekked down south where the water rose to about 10 feet yesterday. The flash flood wreaked havoc in Umatac where one home was halfway underwater and a truck was carried out to the ocean.
Umatac resident Mark Crisostomo and his family are at their wit’s end. Balbin met with him Friday morning learning that as he was dealing with two feet of flooding at his GRTA office in Tamuning, his home in Umatac was also being submerged in a flash flood.
It rose to about 8 ft. in an hour and the flood gates at the home were no match for Mother Nature. Crisostomo said the entire area was underwater. Inside his home, two feet of water covered the floor.
“By the time I got here an hour later fighting the flood, the entire..if you split the house in half the only thing exposed was the top part. This is the worst. I’ve only experienced two floods but this is the worst where everything in the house is pretty much soaked,” Crisostomo said.
Flooding in Umatac, especially at the Umatac Bridge area, has been an issue for years. Crisostomo’s home sits near an area where the four outlets converge into the river.
Yesterday’s flash flood even swept a pickup truck out to sea. Mayor Johnny Quinata says that’s the third time it has happened.
A year and a half ago, Lt. Governor Joshua Tenorio, the Umatac Mayor and Army Corps Engineers visited the bridge and trenched it. Crisostomo says it was widened but not dug deep enough, adding that boulders placed on the side actually made matters worse.
“Well, it’s not good enough. The entire house was underwater. So if they dig deeper and secure it to where the river rocks and the dirt and all that would not accumulate in the middle then maybe we have hope. But until then and Mother Nature comes, there’s just absolutely nothing we can do,” Crisostomo said.
He added: “I understand that COVID is going on, but like the Governor said COVID is a (explicit) and so is Mother Nature when it comes. When she comes, she comes hard. And if they don’t do anything with this river then you are going to force me and my family to move out.”
DPW Director Jesse Garcia says there’s nothing that they could have done to prevent yesterday’s flash flood and any flood mitigation will require more than just digging the river deeper.
“During that assessment of the bridge, they need to put boulders to protect the bridge from any more erosion that’s ongoing. So that’s why the boulders are placed in that area. It was just a tremendous amount of rain that came down in a short period of time. It was flooding all over the place,” Garcia said.
Garcia says flooding was reported in Merizo, Tamuning, Barrigada, Piti, and Tumon. The Crisostomo family has been offered accommodations while efforts are made to inspect the home for damages.