‘Habagat’ lashes Metro; 1 dead, 2 hurt

Nearly 1,700 families forced to leave houses due to floodwaters

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Rising floodwaters drive light vehicles away from a normally busy street in Sta. Cruz, Manila, allowing children to turn it into their own watery playground. EDWIN BELLOSILLO

A five-year-old boy was killed Monday while his grandparents were injured after torrential rains spawned by the habagat (southwest monsoon) loosened the soil around a concrete wall in Binangongan, Rizal, causing it to fall on the victims’ house.

Meanwhile, the heavy downpour which lashed most parts of Metro Manila from Sunday until Monday morning also prompted the evacuation of almost 1,700 families as floods threatened to inundate their houses.

Fernando Gondraneos, an officer of the Binangonan Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the concrete wall fell on the house made of light materials on Picones Street in Sitio (settlement) Acetonas, Barangay (village) Tatala, causing the structure to collapse at 3 a.m. Monday.

Five-year-old Austin Betasolo sustained severe injuries and was declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital. His grandfather, Francisco Betasolo, 54, was discharged after he received treatment for a head injury but Aida, the boy’s 64-year-old grandmother, was transferred to another hospital for more tests.

In the southern part of Metro Manila, floods resulted in the evacuation of over 700 families, 399 of them from Taguig City. The affected barangays were Ususan, Wawa, Fort Bonifacio, Bagumbayan, Hagonoy, Maharlika Village, Lower Bicutan, Tuktukan, Western Bicutan and Katuparan.

At least 160 families in Las Piñas were also forced to leave their houses at the height of the flooding, according to city public information officer Jimmy Castillano.

The area hardest hit by floods was Narra Street in Camella 5 Subdivision where the water rose to chest-high levels. Waist-deep floods also submerged the Alabang-Zapote Road from the corner of Diego Cerra Street in Barangay Zapote to the Las Piñas district hospital.

A total of 59 families from Barangays San Dionisio, Tambo and Sto. Nino in Parañaque City were affected by floods, leading to their evacuation, city police chief Senior Supt. Ariel Andrade said.

State of calamity

In Muntinlupa, Mayor Jaime Fresnedi said seven of the city’s nine barangays were hit by ankle-high to knee-high floodwaters, resulting in the evacuation of 85 families from Tunasan, Poblacion, Putatan, Bayanan, Alabang, Cupang and Sucat.

The city council was planning to call an emergency session to declare a state of calamity in Muntinlupa to facilitate the release of disaster funds, the public information office said in a statement.

In Quezon City, 84 families in three barangays located near the San Juan and Marikina rivers left their houses for higher ground after floodwaters reached a height of over five feet.

Fire-flood victims

Noel Lansang, head of the city risk reduction and disaster management council, said that 15 other families from Don Pepe Street in Barangay Sto. Domingo have been homeless since Saturday after a fire hit the area.

They immediately sought shelter at Sto Domingo Church after the habagat started dumping heavy rains on most parts of Metro Manila on Sunday. “They had no place to go. The parish priest fed them,” Lansang said, adding that many of the evacuees were children below three years old. “They need medicine and food,” he added.

A total of 150 families on Don Pepe Street were displaced after a fire gutted 75 houses. It reached the fifth alarm before it was put out.

In Barangay Bagong Silangan, 54 families were evacuated from Area V at 4 a.m. Monday while 15 families from Barangay Tatalon took refuge at a center for senior citizens.

The Quezon City police monitored waist to chest-deep floods in parts of Araneta Avenue, Banawe Avenue, Maria Clara Street, Palali Street and Retiro Street in the La Loma area; West Riverside in Barangay del Monte; Gumamela and Waling-waling Streets in Barangay Roxas District; and Capoas Street in Barangay Masambong, making these areas impassable to all types of vehicles.

Gutter-deep floodwaters were also reported on Calamba Street in the Sto. Domingo area; Mauban and Tinaga Streets and parts of Araneta Avenue.

In Marikina City, several families chose to evacuate on Sunday night even if the waters in the Marikina River had yet to reach the critical level, said Mike Gomez of Rescue 161.

The highest level reached by the waterway was 16.1 meters at 11 p.m., prompting authorities to raise the alarm to alert level 2 which meant that families in low-lying areas near the river should prepare for a possible evacuation. This was downgraded, however, after the water level went down to 14.4 meters at 4:45 p.m. Monday.

A forced evacuation is carried out once the waters reach a height of 18 meters, said Paul Sison, Marikina public information officer.

As of 4:47 a.m. Monday, Emman Lovin of Marikina Rescue 161 said that 25 families were staying at Malanday Elementary School, 108 families at Bulelak covered court, 32 families at Filipinas Village covered court, two families at Concepcion Elementary School and 80 families at Nangka Elementary School.

He added that there were 178 families at H. Bautista School and 22 families at Concepcion Integrated School.

On Sumulong Highway which was passable to light vehicles as of 10 a.m. Monday, several commuters were waiting for a ride near Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center.

“I’m going home. There might be heavier rains later on,” a man who identified himself as Patrick Tareso told the Inquirer when asked where he was going. A woman who refused to identify herself said that she had planned to go to work but changed her mind when she heard that heavy rains were expected to fall later in the day. “I might get stranded later. I’m sure my boss will understand,” she said.

Few evacuees

At 7 a.m. Monday in Pasig City, only five families remained at the Nagpayong covered court in Barangay Pinagbuhatan, Charlie Cabiles of the city’s action center said.

Although four families were staying at an evacuation center in Barangay Rosario as of 3:55 a.m. Monday, they all went back to their houses after floodwaters there subsided at 8 a.m., he added.

In Antipolo City, a situation report sent to the city’s public information office showed that as of 6 a.m., there were knee-deep floodwaters in Vermont Park; gutter-deep floodwaters on Soliven Avenue and knee-deep floodwaters on Cypress Street.

The report also said there was gutter-deep floodwater on Doña Justina Street and hip-level flooding in parts of Marcos Highway.

Dodie Coronado of the city’s public information office said, however, that as of 10 a.m., there were still no evacuees.

In Manila, which according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration experienced the heaviest volume of rainfall in Metro Manila from Sunday morning until Monday, more than 200 families were evacuated as a preemptive measure.

Johnny Yu, officer in charge of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said 75 families who lived near the seawall in Baseco had been taken to the Baseco Evacuation Center. Another 150 families from Sitio Damayan and Happy Land were evacuated to the covered court in Barangay 105.

Zero casualty

“Mayor Joseph Estrada’s priority is to have zero casualty so when a yellow to orange warning alert was issued, we already carried out preemptive evacuation,” Yu added.

Although some areas in Manila were submerged in waist-deep floods, these had subsided by Monday afternoon.

The city disaster management office monitored waist-deep floodwaters in Blocks 9, 15 and Aplaya of Baseco Compound, Taft Avenue-Kalaw-Orosa Streets and Jose Abad Santos Avenue to Tayuman Street.

For several hours, major thoroughfares were impassable to light vehicles, including España Boulevard, Jones Bridge, Pedro Gil and V. Mapa.

In Pasay, city information officer Jonathan Malaya said that 84 families from 10 barangays were transferred to temporary shelters.

Among the affected areas in the city were Barangays 177, 179, 181, 182, 184, 186, 190, 191, 193 and 201, 132 and 185.

Families from the Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) area were evacuated on Sunday night as a precautionary measure amid fears that dams could overflow and spill into waterways. Rescue teams were positioned in flood-prone areas and government officials worked overtime to monitor the damage.

All major roads in the four cities remained passable despite the heavy rains but floods were reported in several areas.

In Malabon, Mayor Antolin Oreta III, together with the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office and the Malabon police, went to areas along the Tullahan River in Barangay Potrero to convince residents to evacuate.

“We’ve seen how much death and destruction was brought about by the habagat last year,” said Bong Padua of the Malabon Public Information Office. “So Mayor Oreta decided to go to these flood-prone areas to urge families to cooperate.”

Some 200 families from Barangay Potrero who are living along the banks of the Tulla- han River went with the city government to the city-designated evacuation centers.—With Erika Sauler, Nathaniel Melican and Niña P. Calleja

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