Too Much Rain Too Soon

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    Too much rain too soon

    Months worth of rain; storm Ondoy kills 40

    By Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Nikko Dizon, Marlon Ramos

    Philippine Daily InquirerFirst Posted 01:38:00 09/27/2009

    Filed Under: Weather, Disasters & Accidents, Evacuation(General)

    Most ReadOther Most Read StoriesxClose this

    MANILA, PhilippinesNearly a months worth of rain fell in just six hours over Metro Manila Saturday,triggering the worst floods in nearly 40 years, stranding people on rooftops, causing wide-spread blackoutsand killing at least 40 people, officials said.

    In my experience, this is the worst that I have seen, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said as hedescribed how authorities grappled to deploy limited resources amid a barrage of pleas for help after Storm

    Ondoy slammed ashore.

    The government declared a state of calamity in Metro Manila and 25 provinces in Luzon as the massiveflooding paralyzed businesses and transportation.

    The calamity declaration allows officials to withdraw emergency money for relief and rescue.

    While the weather bureau had predicted Ondoy would hit the country, its severity was not expected.

    The massive floods turned wide areas of the metropolis virtually into a sea.

    Families from across various sectors, including the middle class living in gated communities, were amongthose marooned in their homes, many stranded on their roofs.

    The Philippine Navy said it was the first time the Navy had received such a huge number of simultaneouscalls for help.

    Chelo Banal-Formoso, a Philippine Daily Inquirer editor, sent this text for help: We are in Goodrich Villageright next to a creek. Our whole first floor is now flooded almost to the ceiling. Water is still rising. I have ason with autism who needs to be in a place with electricity. My brothers tries but could not get us in ordinarycars.

    Toni Carbonell, NGO administrator, was also stranded with her daughter and her two-month old grandchild.She lives at Block 3, Lot 30, Narra St., Dacon Homes in Cainta, Rizal.

    Lanie Miculob, manager of Sy-owned Highlands Prime, was also stranded and lives at 4B Block BFernandez St., San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City.

    Candice Lim, Yes Magazine staffer, who lives in Provident Village, Marikina, sent this SOS via text: No oneis sending help because the current is too strong. Inanod na kotse.

    Waters rise to 5 meters

    Commuters plodded through floods that reached as high as five meters in some places, police said, whilemany motorists were forced to drive around in circles to avoid getting stranded in the surging waters.

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    Dozens of vehicles stalled in Manila, Makati, Pasay, Quezon City and Taguig.

    Several thousand people fled to evacuation centers.

    Defense Secretary Teodoro said three people were killed in Muntinlupa City, while two were killed in QuezonCity.

    Thirty-five other people were killed in Rizal province, Tony Mateo, a member of the Rizal provincial disastercoordinating council, told the Inquirer Saturday night. He said they included 16 people killed in Tanay, 10 in

    Angono, five in Baras, three in Rodriguez and on in Teresa.

    President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo rode an Army truck to check the extent of flooding around Malacaang.She later took the Light Rail Transit (LRT) to attend a meeting of disaster officials at Camp Aguinaldo.

    The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported that at least 90 percent of majorthoroughfares in the capital was submerged in floodwaters, bringing traffic in several portions of EDSA(Epifanio delos Santos Avenue) to a stop for hours.

    This is the worst flooding I have seen since I was born here, said Paraaque Citys 60-year-old MayorFlorencio Bernabe.

    Pateros Mayor Joey Medina said his town last experienced floods as severe as Saturdays when TyphoonYuling pounded Metro Manila in 1972.

    Ondoy brought a months worth of rain to Metro Manila in one day, the spokesperson of the PhilippineAtmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), Nathaniel Cruz, told theInquirer.

    Metro Manilas average rainfall for September is 391.7 millimeters. In six hours, Ondoy dumped 341millimeters of rainfall.

    Its unusual, Pagasa weather forecaster Bernie de Leon said. It was also the worst case of flooding seenby Pagasa in recent years, he said.

    De Leon said the heavy rainfall might be a manifestation of climate change. He added: Its not conclusivebut it could be one of the reasons, he said.

    2,000 evacuees

    Nearly 2,000 people were evacuated in Manila and surrounding areas, an initial report from the NationalDisaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said.

    The NDCC reported that as of Saturday afternoon, some 1,300 individuals were rescued in San Mateo,Rizal alone. Houses were swept away as the Marikina River rapidly swelled.

    The following provinces were placed under a state of calamity: Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Nueva

    Vizcaya, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon, Isabela, Mountain Province,Ifugao, Benguet, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental,Marinduque, Camarines Norte and Bataan.

    The Philippine Navy spokesperson, Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo, said he received numerous phone calls frompeople he did not know, all asking for help, especially as the night crept in.

    Some of them said they were already staying on the roof of their houses. Some were already begging forhelp, while some were very angry, he said.

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    But he explained that responding to all calls for help was difficult considering the limited number of rescueteams, rubber boats and trucks the Navy had.

    The Philippine Air Force also could not fly its helicopters in the morning because of the downpour.

    Early NDCC reports said that 33 barangays were heavily flooded in Metro Manila, including nine barangaysin San Juan City, six in Malabon City and five each in Quezon and Pasig cities.

    Thirty-seven road sections in Metro Manila were impassable.

    In Bulacan, 25 barangays were under waste-deep water after the Ipo Dam opened three of its gates.

    The Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Ports Authority in Batangas suspended inter-island travel.

    More rains today

    Cruz said that Pagasa had forecast heavy rains in Metro Manila over the weekend but we cannot predictthe amount of rainfall.

    While a general improvement in the weather is expected on Sunday, De Leon said, Ondoy will continue todump rains in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon and the Vizayas until early this week because of thesouthwest monsoon.

    As of 5 p.m. Saturday the eye of the storm was spotted in Pampanga.

    It was moving 13 kph west northwest toward Iba, Zambales, packing maximum winds of 85 kilometers perhour with gustiness of 100 kph.

    Cruz said that Ondoy had picked up speed and made landfall earlier than expected on Saturday.

    Ondoy slammed into the boundary of Aurora and Quezon provinces shortly before noon. Pagasa hadpredicted it would hit land on Saturday afternoon.

    Pagasa said Ondoy was expected to be 190 kilometers northwest of Iba, Zambales, by Sunday noon, and630 km northwest of the province by Monday afternoon.

    Mayor Bernabe said floodwaters reached the rooftops of houses in a private subdivision in BarangayMarcelo.

    Although flooding was common in Paraaque, this is the first time I saw our roads under waist-deepfloodwaters. The city was practically at a standstill, he said.

    Paraaque officials some 10,000 families in the city were affected or displaced.

    In Las Pinas City, Vice Mayor Henry Medina said over 2,000 families fled their homes in eight villages nearthe Zapote and Las Pias rivers.

    Pateros residents were also surprised at how swift the waters had risen.

    We were really shocked by what had happened. The floodwaters suddenly went as high as six feet in amatter of three hours, he said.

    The widespread flooding also prompted the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) to close both thenorth- and south-bound lanes of the South Luzon Expressway to all kinds of vehicles.

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    Trains also hit

    But the storm did not even spare the trains.

    MRT3 operations were disrupted from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. when floodwaters affected the power system of theQuezon Avenue station.

    Operations were back to normal after 1 p.m.

    Over 500 families were evacuated in Quezon City because of severe flooding as Mayor Feliciano BelmonteJr. appealed to residents in low lying barangays to go to higher grounds.

    Several families in Manila also evacuated to higher grounds.

    The Estero de Paco overflowed leaving the area submerged in knee-deep floodwater, Jay dela Fuente,chief of the city social welfare office, said. This is the second time that the estero overflowed. The first timewas during Typhoon Frank.

    Low-lying Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela are used to floods but residents were still surprisedby the surge of floodwaters Saturday and by the speed with which the waters buried roads up to neck deep.

    About 80 to 90 percent of Caloocan City was under water.

    Public safety and traffic management chief Alfonso Sta. Maria said this was the worst flooding experiencedby the city, submerging majority of its 188 barangays in five feet of waters, if not higher. With reports fromTJ Burgonio, Riza T. Olchondra, Julie M. Aurelio, Tina G. Santos, Beverly Natividad and AssociatedPress