MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Several areas have been placed under a state of calamity due to torrential rains brought by a southwest monsoon enhanced by a tropical storm Monday, August 19.
The provincial governments of Cavite and Laguna, as well as the municipalities of Sta Maria and Narvacan in Ilocos Sur, have declared a state of calamity in their respective areas Monday, as torrential rain shut down most of the Philippine capital.
Neck-deep water swept through parts of Metro Manila, causing schools, government offices and the stock exchange in the megacity of 12 million people to be closed.
A red alert was raised by the state weather bureau PAGASA late Sunday, the highest level of a warning system in which widespread floods are predicted. The alert was later downgraded to orange, then to yellow.
Residents in affected areas, however, are advised not to let their guard down despite the lowered rainfall and flooding advisories, the National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council (NDRRMC) said in a press conference past noon.
NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo Del Rosario said they are now focused on Cavite and Laguna.
The Philippine Coast Guard, navy, and air force have been deployed to Cavite to help in emergency response.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development has prepositioned relief goods in the area, added Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman. “We expect more reports in Laguna.”
Soliman said there are 11 evacuation centers set up in both provinces.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said they certain areas in San Pedro and Cabuyao in Laguna are non-passable. Metro Manila Development Authority chief Francis Tolentino also requested for 6×6 trucks to move stranded people going to Rosario, Cavite.
Watch a video of the flooding in Barangay Pansol, Calamba Laguna below.
Tolentino also said people are currently stranded at the Southwest Integrated Bus Terminal due to the floods.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin presided over the NDRRMC briefing. Executive Secretary Pacquito “Jojo” Ochoa, and Interior & Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas II were also present.
The NDRRMC reported 3 casualties due to the monsoon rains. Celedenonio Gamban, 39, drowned in Tanza, Cavite early Monday morning, while Austin Guarimo Betasolo, 5, died after a concrete fence collapsed in Binangonan, Rizal. Earlier, Franco Pedrito Cawayan, 30, was reported dead due to a vehicular accident in Cabugao, Apayao.
Several landslides were reported, all in the Cordilleras.
A total of 28 roads are also affected by the heavy monsoon rain, the agency reported.
The Blue Alert Level status has been put in place by the NDRRMC and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) since Saturday, August 17.
The flooding was due to the normal monsoon being exacerbated by Tropical Storm Maring (international codename Trami), which was causing problems despite being more than 500 km (300 miles) from the Philippines, weather forecasters said.
Maring has maintained its strength and has been “almost stationary” for the past 6 hours, PAGASA said in its 11 am tropical cyclone alert.
The center of the weather system was located 575 km east of Itbayat, Batanes as of 10 am, carrying maximum winds of 75 km/h and gusts of up to 90 km/h.
Maring is forecast to move east northeast at 7 km/h, and will be 700 km east of Itbayat, by Tuesday morning. It is expected to be outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) by Thursday.
No public storm warning signals have been raised in any part of the country.
“We are trying to save whatever we can. But it was so sudden,” J.R Pascual, a father-of-four living in Cavite, told the Agence France-Presse as he tried to take the most important possessions from his home that was flooded up to his waist.
“My neighbor wasn’t even able to get his car out.”
Roads from Cavite into the metropolis were impassable, while some motorists who tried to get through the flooded streets were forced to abandon their cars.
Some commuters on public transport were also stranded, and had to wade through muddy, trash-filled water to find higher ground.
“I didn’t know they had suspended work,” said factory worker Karisa Merin, 33, as she stood marooned on a footpath.
Farming and mountainous areas in northern Luzon were also badly flooded, according to the government’s disaster management council.
Chaotic urban planning is widely blamed for exacerbating the impacts of storms in Manila and other parts of the country, which has had to deal with massive population growth over the past generation. – With reports from the Agence France-Presse, Carmela Fonbuena & KD Suarez/Rappler.com