Manila, the capital of the Philippines, was overcome by devastating monsoon floods into Tuesday after several days of heavy rain. According to the New York Times, a nearby lake sent an overflow of water into the river at the center of Manila, causing catastrophic damage to buildings and sending many people fleeing the overpopulated capital.
There has been over a week of monsoon storms caused by the Typhoon Saola, which struck last week. The storms and flooding have taken the lives of at least 50 people. Rescue workers have been challenged to find and rescue people who were quickly submerged in the torrential rains. Rubber boats floated through the city, which is reportedly 50 percent submerged at this point. One rescue worker, Eric Baran told reporters, “As of now, it’s difficult to rescue the trapped residents, as we are battling strong currents with our life crafts.”
Pictures of the flood show Manila citizens standing waist- or neck-high in water, carrying umbrellas, soaked to the bone and looking concerned. Businesses, roads, cars and possessions have been buried in deep water that promises to cause severe damages to the structure of the colorful capital.
The BBC reports that tens of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes and businesses, especially in areas where structures are less stable. An entire family of nine were killed in Quezon City, a shanty town, where torrential rains quickly tore up the housing in the area.
One witness living over two hours outside of Manila told the BBC about her experience and the rescue effort:
Ironically there is rainwater but drinking water is dwindling. And if you’re used to filtered water being delivered, well now is not the time to expect a delivery. And what’s more is the government says this is not a typhoon but a mere trade wind. How can it not be a typhoon?
Entry and exit points to the North Luzon expressway, the main thoroughfare that connects Manila to northern provinces, has just been closed now, after some thousands of motorists were stranded in waist-deep waters.
Vehicles on the expressway broke down and people cannot be rescued because of the lack of proper planning and the very high risk.
Like in 2009 [during Typhoon Ketsana] rescue efforts are done via social media, what with power and phone lines cut, but in cities outside the Metro like Balanga City, social media is not an integral part of daily life and so relief will begin probably when the sun comes up.
The flooding has almost completely shut down the capital and surrounding cities during a time of political and social unrest. President Aquino has been trying to draft controversial new health care legislation that would make contraception more readily available, ruffling the feathers of the conservative Catholic faction. The bill will likely be voted on in the next several weeks.
More rains are expected to pound down on the area in coming days, continuing to threaten a strained population, and more likely to affect the rural and poverty stricken areas where resources are less readily available.
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy