MANILA, Philippines–As rains continued over several parts of Luzon, the water level in Laguna Lake kept rising and was reported just two inches below critical as of early Tuesday afternoon, a situation authorities fear could trigger months of lakeshore flooding.
Meanwhile, thousands of families remained in evacuation centers in Laguna, Cavite and Rizal as floodwaters have yet to subside.
Two residents of Imus City, Cavite were added to the list of casualties from flooding wrought by torrential rains.
Resident Roberto Capili, 53, drowned in the flood and his body was recovered by the riverside in Barangay Malagasang 2a.
Constantine Modesto, 2, was found by the riverside in Malagasang 2c, both at 8 a.m. on Monday.
In Quezon, rescue teams continue to search for Rustom Depeseda, a 12-year-old boy who was swept by the raging water in a river in Sariaya town Monday morning.
In Laguna province, the water level at the Laguna de Bay rose by couple of centimeters in just three hours, data from the Laguna Lake Development Authority showed.
As of 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, the lake water level was at 12.45 meters above sea level (masl). It hit the 12.4-meter mark at 12:30 p.m. according to data taken from the lake’s monitoring station in Angono, Rizal.
“The water is climbing up fast,” said LLDA resident hydrologist Emil Hernandez in a phone interview. “It’s just now 0.05 meters or two inches below its critical level,” he added.
The rise in the Laguna Lake water level came as Marikina River breached its 18-meter critical level.
The Banaba river, which is a part of the Rodriguez-San Mateo-Marikina river system, is at 21 meters, said Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council director Vicente Tomazar.
“This only meant that there are still large amounts of water coming from the watersheds and the rains,” Hernandez said.
Laguna Lake’s critical or the maximum annual level is 12.5 meters and beyond that would trigger months-long of lakeshore flooding.
The lake’s floodwaters come from the Marikina River, Sierra Madre mountain range, and upland areas of Rizal and Laguna provinces.
“That’s what we are concerned right now. Given the wide area hit by the flood, all that water would end up in the lake. The lake is now almost filled up and might not have enough holding capacity for the coming (typhoons) unless the weather improves in the next days,” Hernandez said.
Laguna Governor Jeorge “ER” Ejercito said the massive flood caused by the heavy downpour affected 16,450 families (80,405 persons) in the province.
The deluge hit 69 villages in the municipalities of San Pedro, Los Baños, Bay, Mabitac, Sta. Maria, and in the cities of Biñan and Sta. Rosa, according to the latest report from the provincial government. Ejercito said the whole of Laguna remained under a state of calamity.
In Cavite province, high tide apparently exacerbated flooding there.
The coastal municipalities of Kawit and Rosario and Bacoor City remained flooded on Tuesday as these parts of the province continued to experience rains.
River systems in Kawit and Rosario overflowed Tuesday morning, worsened by the high tide in Manila Bay that prevented inland floodwaters from receding.
In a phone interview, Cavite Governor Juanito Victor Remulla said the floodwater in majority areas in these municipalities remained at “knee-deep” level.
In Kawit, the compound of the historical Aguinaldo Shrine remained under a knee-deep flood as the nearby Marulas River continued to swell by midday Tuesday.
In Rosario town, Mayor Jose “Nonong” Ricafrente said around 200 families remained in evacuation centers as floodwaters in six villages rose to “chest level.”
Meanwhile, the road heading to Noveleta town was rendered impassable.
“It rained hard early this morning and it was high tide (at the Manila Bay) around 8:45 a.m. The Malimango River also overflowed,” Ricafrente said.
In Bacoor City, more than 60 villages out of 73 villages were still submerged in water said City Information Officer Kathrina Sanchez.
She said public health centers in the city were also flooded. Medicines and other supplies were destroyed or lost to the flood.
Rizal Governor Rebecca “Nini” Ynares in a phone interview, said bouts of rain early Tuesday forced the families in the province back to the evacuation center.
On Tuesday afternoon, a state of calamity was declared in San Mateo, the hardest hit in the province.
Ynares said 10 out of the province’s 14 municipalities and cities were affected by the torrential rains that began during the weekend.
The provincial government placed the initial cost of damage to crops at P1.4 million.
Separate reports from the municipal disaster offices showed the number of families at evacuation centers as of Tuesday afternoon: Baras 110 families (579 persons), Rodriguez 908 families (2,740 persons) and Angono 343 families (number of persons not immediately available).
Reports from Maricar P. Cinco, Romulo O. Ponte and Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon