Metro Manila shut down for business on Tuesday as the southwest monsoon (habagat) intensified by Tropical Storm “Maring” dumped nearly a month’s worth of rain in one day.
But the rains of August were a great leveler swamping the homes of the rich and the poor.
The head of the agency on top of the country’s flood control projects, for instance, was not spared by the flooding that hit Metro Manila and large swaths of Luzon for the fourth day on Tuesday.
The house of Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson is in upscale Magallanes Village in Makati City near the Maricaban Creek which overflowed and submerged a third of the village starting Monday night.
Amid the deluge, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle encouraged everyone to work together to ease the sufferings of the affected communities.
“I hope in the midst of nature’s scourge, we find a deep connection with each other so that the pain brought about by the loss of home, property and livelihood will be replaced by overwhelming love and concern for others,” Tagle said over Church-run Radio Veritas on Tuesday.
“In times like these, let us work together and help each other even in our small ways so that we can lessen the sufferings brought about by this calamity,” he added.
In the metropolis, the major closures included the following:
— Malacañang ordered the suspension of work in government offices in Metro Manila for the second straight day.
— Private offices were closed.
— Classes in both private and public schools were suspended.
— Flights were canceled.
— Heavy rains spawned by habagat (southwest monsoon) submerged 60 percent of Metro Manila and many parts of Luzon, according to authorities.
Death toll, worst hit
The death toll rose to eight on Tuesday, including infants who drowned.
The torrential rains have affected 600,000 people, mostly in the Calabarzon area, the hardest hit region.
The southern parts of Metro Manila and Cavite province were the worst hit by the monsoon, a Philippine Red Cross (PRC) official said Tuesday.
PRC secretary general Gwendolyn Pang said Parañaque and Las Piñas cities and Cavite province bore the brunt of the torrential rains with 41,569 families, or 205,478 individuals, seeking shelter in 190 evacuation centers.
“The southern parts were the worst hit because floodwaters there reached unprecedented levels,” Pang said in an interview.
The PRC said the floods had claimed the lives of seven people, among them four children, injured 11 more and left four others missing.
“We were also surprised with the rain intensity, especially in some areas,” Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo said at the second meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Montejo said that some areas experienced record rainfall, particularly in Sangley, Cavite, where the rainfall on Monday exceeded its record last year.
The month of August receives an average of 475.4 millimeters of rainfall, said Esperanza Cawayan, of the weather bureau’s National Capital Region. But Cawayan said Sangley had 475.4 mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours.
She said that Ninoy Aquino International Airport received 326 mm of rain for the past 24 hours, which was 77 percent of the average August rainfall.
Other parts of Metro Manila, however, received less rainfall than last year’s monsoon rains.
“Last year, there was no letup in the rains. This time, we had breaks. Our rainfall alert was lowered (on Monday night) and was raised to orange again at dawn on Tuesday. That was the difference than last year’s (monsoon),” Cawayan said.
Montejo said that Maring could be outside the Philippine area of responsibility in the next few days.
Weather forecaster Chris Perez of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that there was lesser volume of rain from noon of Tuesday until late afternoon.
“But that is the nature of the monsoon rains. There would be heavy rains in the afternoon up to the evening then early morning, then there would be a break,” Perez said.
As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the NDRRMC reported that only 20 percent of Metro Manila remained underwater, particularly the cities of Marikina and Parañaque.
Earlier on Tuesday, 60 percent of Metro Manila was flooded.
Worse than ‘Ondoy’
In Makati City, Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, who was joined by his father, Vice President Jojo Binay, in the rescue operations, said the flooding on Tuesday was “worse” than that caused by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” that hit the metropolis in 2009 and killed scores of people.
Vice President Binay said one street in Magallanes that was high enough not to be reached by floods during Ondoy was under chest-high floods on Tuesday. “Some residents parked their cars there, thinking that they would be safe,” he said.
The NDRRMC spokesperson, Maj. Rey Balido, said 65 roads in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, the Cordillera Administrative Region and Metro Manila remained impassable, as well as a bridge in Mt. Province.
Placed under a state of calamity were Narvacan in Ilocos Sur, the towns of San Fernando, Masantol, Guagua, Macabebe, and Minalin in Pampanga, the provinces of Bataan, Laguna, and Cavite, the municipality of Pateros, and Parañaque City.
Pagasa issued a red rainfall warning advisory over Metro Manila and surrounding provinces at 7:30 a.m., indicating intense to torrential rains.
The weather bureau alerted residents to severe flooding in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales and Bataan.
It was the second red rainfall warning over Metro Manila since Maring entered the country’s territory on Saturday. The first was issued on Sunday evening. Pagasa’s rainfall warning has three levels: yellow, orange and red, the last serving as the highest level of alert.
On Tuesday, Maring was predicted to move more briskly northward at 19 kilometers per hour (kph), compared to its slow movement hours before due to interaction with a low pressure area, which had since dissipated.
As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the eye of the storm was observed at 540 kph east northeast of Itbayat, Batanes province, packing peak winds of 95 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 120 kph, Pagasa said.
Perez said the storm was expected to leave the country by Thursday morning, by which time it would likely be 560 km northwest of Itbayat, heading for northern Taiwan.
Weather conditions will gradually improve by Friday, he said. Based on Pagasa’s 24-hour weather outlook, Metro Manila, Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and the province of Benguet will experience monsoon rains that may trigger flash floods and landslides.—With reports from Michael Lim Ubac, Tarra Quismundo, Philip C. Tubeza, Miguel R. Camus, Jerry E. Esplanada I Metro Manila; and Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas
‘Maring’ floods kill 8, trap thousands in homes