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Overnight rains flood parts of Manila

Publication Date : 16-09-2012

 

Parts of Metro Manila went under several feet of water yesterday after heavy rains lashed the Philippines capital overnight, forcing more than 400 people to flee their homes, officials said.

The downpour stopped by mid-morning, allowing evacuees to return to their homes. But weathermen warned that heavy monsoon rains could continue through Tuesday.

A strong typhoon Sanba moving towards Japan "has no direct effect [on the Philippines] but it enhanced the southwestern monsoon so we will continue to experience rains," said government meteorologist Gary de la Cruz.

Low-lying coastal areas of the capital were hardest hit, forcing people to flee their homes, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

In Quezon City, hard hit areas included Barangays Dona Imelda, Sto. Domingo, Mariblo, Roxas district, Damayan Lagi, Tatalon and Masambong. Safety officials dispatched 12 rescue boats to Tatalon district.

At least 10 domestic flights were cancelled and universities in affected areas called off yesterday classes.

Although the heavy rains eased later in the day, De la Cruz said the country could continue to suffer downpours until Tuesday.

So far, Sanba has caused only one fatality in the Philippines, a fisherman who ventured out to sea on Sept. 12 but whose body was recovered only two days later, the disaster management council said.

Storms and flooding from torrential rains affected more than two million people in August and killed scores.

Climate Change Commissioner Heherson Alvarez has called for a review of the comprehensive flood management plans of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)

In an interview with the Inquirer, Alvarez said that any master plan to reduce the vulnerability of Metro Manila and outlying regions to flooding and extraordinary rainfall must be "climate change sensitive."

He described as "not well conceived" the DPWH master plan which calls for at least 351.72 billion peso (US$8.4 billion) in infrastructure spending, including major flood control projects.

Alvarez said the plan needed to take into account the intensifying and destructive impacts of extreme weather anomalies. He suggested it be carefully restudied from the perspectives of climate change-oriented engineers.

Alvarez said the DPWH must also get inputs from experts from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in putting together a comprehensive approach to solve the flooding.

He said the DOST had instruments that could read the volume of moisture to anticipate downpours while the DENR could be tapped for reforestation and greening to absorb surface water.

The Philippines has been identified as one of three countries most vulnerable to climate change, after Tonga and Vanuatu.

Thus, adaptation measures such as flood control plans require close coordination between scientific and technical bodies to plan effective measures against escalating storm surges in  the next  five or 10 decades, Alvarez explained.

Alvarez said the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) reported that global warming, caused by more than 200 billion metric tonnes of accumulated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, will trigger more frequent and stronger typhoons in the coming years.

According to Alvarez, the country's scarce resources must be strategically deployed because there are "enormous investments that are likely to be wasted" if climate change science and sensitivity are not factored into engineering plans.

Cynthia Balana, Julie Aurelio and AFP contributed to the story.

 

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