MANILA (Sept. 26) — Floodwaters covered Metro Manila and its outskirts as tropical storm Ondoy lashed out at the eastern side of the country today, government agencies said.
The storm, bearing winds of 85 kilometers per hour with gusts of 100 kilometers, struck Luzon near the town of Infanta in Quezon province at about 10 a.m., moving west at 19 kilometers an hour, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.
At least nine people were reported dead or missing in Metro Manila and about 100 families have been evacuated as incessant rains caused heavy flooding in the national capital region. Flooding was reported on roads in many districts with water reaching as high as the rooftops of one-storey buildings, the civil defense said.
It also reported that as many as 700 people were forced to flee their homes to take refuge in evacuation centers due to rising waters. A wall, weakened by floodwaters, collapsed in a suburb of Manila, killing a father and child while four children drowned with three others swept away by a swollen river outside the capital, radio station DZMM said. Government offices, however, could not confirm this.
South Luzon Expressway was in waist-deep floodwaters prompting transport officials to close it.
In Marikina City, at least 75 families from the village of Malanday were evacuated to the Malanday Elementary School, the National Disaster Coordinating Council reported.
A hundred people was brought to the Santolan Elementary School in the village of Santolan, Pasig City while four families (20 people) in the village of Tunasan, Muntinlupa City sought refuge in a covered court.
In San Mateo, Rizal, at least 269 families were reported to be severely affected by rising floodwater in the villages of Banaba and Sta. Ana. But the NDCC report did not say if the affected families have been evacuated.
Philippine Navy spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo said at least 14 rescue teams had been deployed as of Saturday noon. Navy personnel rescued at least 40 people using two amphibious trucks in the cities of Malabon and Navotas, Arevalo said.
The navy also sent eight rescue teams in Cavite and two teams in Central Luzon.
In Paranaque City, two rescue teams, each composed of an officer and nine enlisted personnel, were also deployed equipped with two rubber boats.
Pagasa raised storm signal warning number 2 over Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Northern Quezon and Polillo Island.
Storm warning signal number 1 was hoisted over Isabela, Mountain province, Ifugao, Benguet, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Mindoro Provinces, Lubang Island, Marinduque, Camarines Norte, Bataan, Metro Manila and the rest of Quezon Province.
Ondoy was expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and bring rains over Central and Southern Luzon and parts of Visayas, Pagasa said.
It advised residents living in low-lying areas and near mountain slopes in areas affected by Ondoy and the southwest monsoon to take necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides.
“Those living along the coast under signals number 2 and 1 are advised to be on alert against big waves generated by the storm,” Pagasa added.
Ondoy was forecast to move west northwestward at 19 kilometers per hour. By Sunday morning, it was expected to be 230 kilometers west northwest of Iba, Zambales and at 610 kilometers west northwest of Iba , Zambales by Monday morning.
The total rainfall brought by typhoon ‘Ondoy’ to Metro Manila and nearby areas in a span of six hours on Saturday has exceeded the highest recorded rainfall in a day since 1967, the country’s weather bureau chief said.
Nathaniel Cruz, head of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that the total rainfall from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday surpassed the highest 24-hour rainfall that the weather bureau recorded 42 years ago.
Cruz said the total rainfall from ‘Ondoy’ in Metro Manila in six hours, which measured 341 millimeters, broke the record for the highest 24-hour rainfall of 334 millimeters recorded by Pagasa in June 1967.
“We were able to break that record in a span of six hours. Today, we really experienced an extreme weather event,” he said.
The weather bureau chief also said the amount of rain caused by ‘Ondoy’ in six hours is almost equal to the average monthly rainfall in Metro Manila, which Cruz pegged at 392 millimeters.
“This means our rainfall for six hours today is nearly equal to our average monthly rainfall),” he explained.
Cruz attributed the extreme rainfall caused by ‘Ondoy’ to climate change.
“This could be again a manifestation of climate change. Due to climate change, we should expect more extreme weather events like extreme rainfall,” he said.
He added that other factors such as Metro Manila’s poor drainage system, pollution, and garbage problem might have worsened the effects of the heavy downpour that ‘Ondoy’ brought to the area.
“Maybe 10 years ago, the floods might have not been this bad. The heavy flooding might have been caused by these other factors,” he said.