In a virtual reprise of the massive Ondoy floods, vast areas of Metro Manila and nearby provinces went under water from non-stop monsoon rains killing scores of people and leaving thousands homeless and huddling in jampacked evacuation centers.
The Philippine weather bureau PAGASA said rains falling on Aug. 6-8 broke even Ondoy’s record of 455 mm in 24 hours. The rains that fell within that 72-hour window was equivalent to nearly 3 months-worth of normal rainfall for the area.
And just like Ondoy, the worst was experienced just as a tropical storm was already exiting the country. This round of monsoon rains was spawned by the storm that also struck Taiwan and China.
It intensified the usual rain patterns over vast tracts of the Philippines, including the Ilocos, Central and Southern Luzon regions as well as the Cordilleras.
This prompted Office of Civil Defense chief Benito Ramos to describe flooded areas as a virtual “water world” referring to a Kevin Costner futuristic movie where the entire planet suddenly became composed of water. Reports said 82 percent of Metro Manila was underwater.
Water at the La Mesa dam in Quezon City spilled over and rapidly moving floodwater destroyed dikes in Bulacan and the northern fringes of the capital region. Residents of villages devastated by last year’s floods were forced to relive the harrowing ordeal, including those in Marikina Valley.
Filipino-Americans in California with roots and family in Marikina are mobilizing to send urgent help back home.
“I have a sister and two brothers and mostly close relatives. For sure, I'm always worrying about what's their condition and I know Marikina, since it is a valley, it's always flooded every time there's a natural disaster ” said Leo Ignacio of Long Beach. Ca.
“I just had a call from my sister, they're okay. The floods going inside the house and thankfully they're all safe,” he added.
Ignacio is the former president of the Marikina Association of Southern California. He, along with other members, also started the Marikina-Marikenians Community Scholarship Foundation International, which originally intended to provide scholarships for children in Marikina.
After six months of applying, they got their approval as a non-profit organization less than two weeks ago.
The foundation will concentrate on providing assistance to families in distress. They will begin their charity to their hometown by collecting money to send to disaster relief efforts in the Philippines.
The group is planning to create fundraiser events in the near future to help assist family, friends, and neighbors victimized by the latest natural disaster.
Government offices, courts and schools were suspended in Manila and nine northern provinces after the torrent started on the evening of Aug. 5.
President Aquino ordered private businesses to close on Tuesday (Aug. 7), while the Philippine Stock Exchange suspended trading. On Aug. 8, government offices were reopened so that officials could assist the evacuees.
Up to 80 per cent of metropolitan Manila – an area of about 12 million inhabitants – was flooded, according to the OCD.
Ramos said 58,237 people abandoned their homes to stay in evacuation centers in Manila and other affected provinces, while 70,800 took shelter with their relatives or friends.
Many roads in the capital were impassable as floodwaters reached 2 meters in some areas.
Hundreds of commuters and scores of cars were stranded in swamped streets across Manila, which was recovering from its soaking by Typhoon Saola in the last week of July.
Initial reports said more than 50 people have perished from the storm and floods that hit Luzon last week. The death toll is expected to rise as reports trickle in from the Metro Area and surrounding provinces. Eight people including five children were killed when a landslide buried three houses in a village in the Manila suburb of Quezon City, according to Mayor Herbert Bautista.
The weather bureau said the rains were caused by the south-west monsoon enhanced by Typhoon Saola that battered the northern and central Philippines in late July, killing at least 53 people in floods and accidents.