200,000 evacuate in Metro Manila

Agence France-Presse
Flood waters have begun to subside, however

 TEMPORARY SHELTER. Flood victims take refuge inside the Sto. Domingo church. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – More than 200,000 flood-battered residents of Metro Manila fled their homes on Tuesday, August 20, as relentless monsoon rains, which have killed 8 people, submerged more than half of Manila.

Streets turned into rivers with water rising above 7 feet in some parts of the megacity of 12 million people, while vast areas of neighbouring farming regions on the main island of Luzon were also inundated.

“I was crying when I saw my house being filled with water,” said Edita Selda, 68, a sidewalk vendor who was forced to evacuate from her home in a shantytown along a major river in Manila that burst its banks.

“I chained the door shut so our belongings wouldn’t be washed away. But… the water is moving so fast.”

More than half of Manila was flooded on Tuesday morning although that figure subsided to about 20% by the evening, authorities said.

READ: The day Metro turned black

In one part of the capital, 18.7 inches of rain fell in the 24 hours to Monday morning, according to Esperanza Cayanan, a meteorologist in charge of Manila for the state weather forecaster.

She said this was the same amount which normally fell for all of August, already one of the wettest months of the year.

More than 200,000 people have sought shelter in evacuation centers, the head of the Philippine Red Cross, Gwendolyn Peng, told ABS-CBN television.

Countless others were forced to wait out the floods in their water-filled homes, while the less fortunate sat on sidewalks with only plastic sheets for protection from the rain.

Nothing to eat

“We have had nothing to eat, nothing to wear. A few people went to houses on higher ground, but most of us had nowhere to go,” Dinah Claire Velasco, 44, a resident of a blue-collar coastal district on the outskirts of Manila told AFP.

“My children and other people were able to seek refuge on the second floor of my house but a lot of others had to just sit on their roofs… We’re waiting for rescue, for help, even just food.”

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While no one was reported killed in Manila, 5 more people were confirmed to have drowned in flooded farming provinces to the north, according to the government’s disaster management council.

Among them were a one-year-old baby and a 64-year-old man, both of whom drowned in the rural province of Pampanga about an hour’s drive north of Manila.

This brought the confirmed death toll from two days of flooding across Luzon to 8.
The economic toll has also started to grow, with the stock exchange, government offices and schools in Manila closed for a second consecutive day.

SISTERS' ACT. Dominican nuns prepare food for evacuees in Quezon City. Photo by Rappler 

Cancelled flights

More than 160 domestic and international flights at Manila’s airport were cancelled.

The state weather agency said the rain would continue into Wednesday, raising the prospect of another day of paralysis in Manila.

The heavy rains were due to the seasonal monsoon being exacerbated by Tropical Storm Trami, known locally as Maring, which was hovering to the north of the Philippines.

Trami has been nearly stationary since Monday, according to the weather bureau. – Rappler.com

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