Maring’s rain volume exceeds that of Ondoy’s; Death toll: 8
FLOOD-BATTERED residents of Metro Manila and its surrounding areas appealed for help Tuesday as relentless monsoon rains have submerged more than half of Manila.
Black Tuesday. From top to bottom: A Philippine Airlines plane takes off in Manila amid thick rain clouds that have been pummeling wide areas; residents of E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City negotiate the flooded street; residents pull a makeshift boat on A. Luna Street in San Juan; residents negotiate a flooded street in Manila. Eric B. Apolonio, Lino Santos, AFP
The storm had claimed eight lives, half of them from drowning, with four still missing and 14 injured, officials said.
Water engulfed entire homes and vehicles in large parts of Metro Manila, trapping many people and forcing more than 200,000 residents into evacuation centers.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the heavy rains inundated around 415 areas in 68 municipalities in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Maring’s rain volume (600 millimeters in 24 hours) had already exceeded the amount of rain brought by Ondoy (455 mm) in 2009 and the Habagat (472 mm) in 2012.
The NDRRMC said the Maring-enhanced rains battered Regions 1, 3, 4-A, 4-B, 5, Cordillera Administrative Region and the National Capital Region.
In Metro Manila, the water turned streets into rivers with water rising above two-meters (seven feet) while vast areas of neighboring farming regions on the main island of Luzon were also inundated.
“We have had nothing to eat, nothing to wear. A few people went to houses on higher ground, but most of us had nowhere to go,” said Dinah Claire Velasco, 44, a resident of a coastal district on the outskirts of Manila.
“My children and other people were able to seek refuge on the second floor of my house but a lot of others had to just sit on their roofs... We’re waiting for rescue, for help, even just food.”
The government mobilized amphibious vehicles, rubber boats, and trucks to save residents who were trapped by rising waters, but groups involved in the rescue effort said they were being overwhelmed.
“We are getting a lot of calls for rescue... we would really be hard pressed to rescue all of them,” a Philippine Red Cross official told a government briefing on the floods, which was broadcast on national television.
At least 60 percent of Manila was flooded on Tuesday morning, with some places enduring waters climbing as high as 2.1 meters (seven feet), an official with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said in the briefing.
In one part of the capital, 47.5 centimeters (18.7 inches) of rain fell in the 24 hours to Monday morning, said Esperanza Cayanan, a meteorologist in charge of Manila for the state weather bureau.
She said this was the same amount as which normally fell for all of August, already one of the wettest months of the year.
The economic toll also started to grow, with the stock exchange, government offices and schools in Manila closed for a second consecutive day.
Many domestic flights at Manila’s airport were canceled, while international flights were delayed on Tuesday morning. Flooded roads to the airport were impassable.
The state weather agency warned the rain would continue through Tuesday, issuing its top level red alert for Manila and neighboring provinces, before lowering it to orange in the afternoon.
The red alert means “serious flooding” is likely in low-lying areas, and more than three centimeters (1.8 inches) of rain is expected every hour. An orange alert is issued for areas that can expect 1.5 to 3.0 cm an hour.
Maring (international code name Tramil) had been nearly stationary since Monday, the weather bureau said. It expects the storm to leave the country’s area of responsibility by Thursday.
A state of calamity was declared in Bataan; Narvacan, Ilocos Sur; San Mateo, Rizal; Paranaque City, Muntinlupa City, Pateros, and Minalin and Guagua towns in Pampanga.
On Monday, both the provinces of Cavite and Laguna, hard hit by floods, were also put under a state of calamity.
Among the hardest hit in Metro Manila and surrounding areas were San Mateo, Rodriguez and Binangonan in Rizal; Pasay City; Manila, Pasig City; Marikina; Navotas; Malabon; and the areas surrounding the La Mesa Dam in Quezon City.
In Central Luzon, the hardest hit were the towns of Bataan, hundreds of low-lying villages in Lubao, Gugua, Minalin in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales and Malolos in Bulacan.
At least 64 villages in five towns and two cities in Bulacan, including all 11 barangays in Obando, are now submerged due to heavy rains aggravated by high tide.
Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive officer Liz Mungcal said that 18 villages in Malolos, and the coastal towns of Hagonoy, Calumpit (1 are also bearing the brunt of the severe flooding as heavy rains continue to pound the province.
Other affected towns are Marilao, Bocaue, Pulilan and the city of Meycauayan.
Emergency rescue units, equipped with rubber boats and backed-up by paramedic teams have been alerted and dispatched to the affected areas.
Maring also pounded the towns of Tuba, Abra, Bontoc, and Sagada, Mountain Province; Cabugao, in Kalinga Apayao; Baguio City and Ilocos Sur, triggering landslides and flooding.
At the boundary of Dinalupihan and Olongapo, a major road link to Zambales was closed to traffic due to a massive landslide while the Pasig-Potrero Bridge connecting Angeles, Pampanga to the SCTEX highway was severely damaged and impassable to all types of vehicles.
In Bacolor, Pampanga, a 200-meter stretch of an earth dike collapsed, putting several villages in neck-deep floodwaters. Rescuers used rubber boats and wooden rafts to save the residents.
At least 64 roads in the Southern Tagalog provinces, Central Luzon, the Bicol region, Cordillera and Metro Manila were still not passable.
The water elevation at the La Mesa Dam rose above its maximum of 80.15 meters Tuesday due to the torrential rains.
As of 1 p.m., the dam’s water level reached 80.24 meters and started to spill, the dam’s manager Teddy Angeles told the Manila Standard.
The water from La Mesa Dam flowed into the Tullahan River through the northern part of Quezon City, particularly in Fairview and the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela.
Angeles warned residents along the Tullahan River to move to higher ground since the dam’s water was expected to keep rising.
“Enforced evacuation is strongly recommended,” he said.
Three other major dams – Binga and Ambuklao in Benguet, and Magat in Isabela – had opened their gates after reaching their spilling levels. The released water would end up at the San Roque Dam in Pangasinan.
The Social Welfare Department said it had P120 million worth of relief and food packs for flood-affected residents.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said the flood victims were housed in 199 evacuation sites, which provided refuge and food to some 9,163 families, or about 41,000 people.
The Health Department raised a white code alert to attend to all patients afflicted by water-borne diseases, and deployed medical workers to at least 199 evacuation centers.
The country endures about 20 major storms or typhoons annually, generally in the second half of the year and many of them deadly.
The extent of the flooding across Manila recalled memories of tropical storm Ondoy (Ketsana), which flooded 80 percent of the capital in 2009 and claimed more than 460 lives.
However Ondoy took most people in Manila by surprise, and residents as well as the government have taken many measures to be better prepared.
These include extensive social media alerts informing people about places to avoid and offering a platform to appeal for help. One of the most important tools this week has been the #RescuePH hashtag on the micro-blogging site Twitter. – With Rio N. Araja, Orlan Mauricio, AFP, PNA