Showing posts with label flood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flood. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The last flood experience?

Five years ago, we endured what we now look back to as our last flood experience. Here are some photos from that time when rains brought about by a typhoon flooded many areas in Metro Manila and its surrounding areas including our subdivision in the lower part of Antipolo City in Rizal Province.

The view from our old house on August 20, 2013
The view of the street from our former home on August 21, 2013
Another view of the flooded street from our former home on August 21, 2013.

I recall that after we came home from Singapore, we weren't quite ready yet to purchase property and build our new home. And so we ended up renting in condos in Quezon City and BGC during the rainy season where we stayed mostly on weekdays. On this particular day, one car was with the Clairvoyant and I already advised her against coming home that day. I left our other car (which was revived after it sank during Ondoy in 2009) at the university and rode with an officemate and came home before the flood waters rose.

This was the last serious flood we experienced and I say 'serious' because flood waters invaded our home. It was not as bad as the Ondoy of 2009 or Habagat of 2012 though as the water inside was only about 100mm at the deepest. By comparison, Ondoy was about 2m (scary!) and Habagat about 1m inside our home! At the time of the 2013 floods, our nbew house was already under construction and we were already looking forward to moving out of what we called home for 9 years.

The following year 2014, we moved out to our present home in upper Antipolo City. It would be quite improbable for our area to be flooded now and in the foreseeable future and hopefully, 2013 would be the last flood experience.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Looking back at Ondoy/Ketsana 2009

I started blogging back in 2008 and I was not really in to it at the time. I found writing to be somewhat cathartic for me after the floods of Ondoy/Ketsana so I wrote more frequently since then. Here's something I wrote a few days after Ondoy. We were reeling from the losses and could only wonder about the what-ifs.

Post deluge

My mind was full of ideas of what to write after going through what water resources engineering or hydraulic engineering textbooks term as a 40- or 50-year flood. From my experience (and I am a certified flood veteran) I am more inclined to say that what hit us last September 26 was actually a 25-year flood. I am basing this interpretation from the 1985 flood that inundated our village of Kasibulan in Cainta. Our whole family and all others from the subdivision had to evacuate our home when floods reached waist-deep at road level. We found safe haven in the factory across Imelda Avenue. The guards allowed us to seek refuge in the huge steel structures that housed heavy machinery no longer operating after the factory shutdown because of a labor problem. The striking workers actually assisted many families in getting to higher, safer ground that day.

Fortunately, no one from our village drowned from that 1985 flood. But it left a lot of deep scars that painfully reopened every year for the next 10 years that we were to experience flooding - not as terrible as 1985's but some comparable if you weren't used to them. A lot of memories were lost in those floods. My parents' wedding photos were lost including many of their photos before they got married. We were able to save many photos though - mostly mine and I'm afraid those were all damaged if not wiped out by typhoon Ondoy. We shared the same losses with our neighbors and made people closer in our village. In fact, we there were many of use there who studied at Lourdes Mandaluyong and one of our neighbors happened to be the high school principal at the time. Mr. Ben Dayo would always vouch for us when we claimed we had to miss classes because we had to help in cleaning our houses after the floods receded. I believe those floods have somehow influenced me as I grew up.

I wanted to believe that the floods in Town & Country wouldn't be deeper than what I had experienced in Kasibulan. I desperately wanted to believe that it could get deeper. But it did. When the clairvoyant and I bought a house there, one of the information I sought was about flood experience. Referring to the designs of the houses as well as neighbors stories, our home was supposed to be safe with the deepest flood experience in our area reaching only our gate. We were fortunate to have ample space in our second floor rooms. The clairvoyant and I were able to transfer our books and other personal properties with the help of Manang Aileen with an efficiency anyone can be proud off. Most importantly, we didn't have to abandon our home like many of our neighbors and we always had non-perishable food and drinks stocked. Many, we discovered afterwards, weren't as lucky as we were. We all lost our vehicles that day. Most cars went under overnight and emerged still parked in what everyone thought were garages that were flood-safe. But that's another story.

I was able to save my stamp collection from my parents' house in Kasibulan. Many items from an old brief case (what was my school bag when I was in high school)survived including old letters and bookmarks I had put aside as souvenirs from visits to Kamakura. These included old bookmarks from Tatay's visit to Kamakura in the 1960's.

The past days were blessings in that another super typhoon veered away from Metro Manila and still another will not hit the country. I honestly want to believe again that I won't experience another flood of that magnitude in say, 25 years (not the 40 years that would probably be much more damaging). If there was one thing I didn't want to share with the clairvoyant I guess an actual experience of such a flood would be it. But we did share the experience and we came out survivors (not victims as other people might label us) and I would rather believe that we came out better and will be stronger for this. We still have, after all, our faith.

We learned our lesson well and now live in a flood-free and better neighborhood in Antipolo. We are also glad that our daughter would not have to experience what we went through along with the floods due to the monsoon rains of 2012 and 2013.
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Saturday, September 26, 2015

6 years A.O. (After Ondoy)

It's now 6 years after Ondoy (Typhoon Ketsana); that particularly destructive typhoon that brought down the heaviest rainfall we ever experienced (some say 100 year flood). We lost 1 of our 2 cars and were demoralized given our investment with what used to be our home back in 2009. Our housekeeper was so stressed and depressed (it was her first time to experience such an event) that we had her take a break for some time. Our pets were also distressed and it took a while before the two ventured downstairs as we were sure they could detect the smell of flood waters that lingered even after we cleaned up and disinfected our ground floor and surroundings.

We now live on literally higher ground. After saving up for a few years, we were able to build our new home. Our dogs moved in with us last year and soon our most wonderful blessing arrived and is enjoying her room at our home - safe from the floods of Ondoy and other typhoons that may bring in floods in the future. Our kasambahay Manang is also with us along with her son whose schooling we are supporting. They, too, are happy and it seems that we can all now look back at Ondoy and its floods jokingly. It is something we would rather not experience again and we hope our former neighbors will not experience again in the future.

Today is actually a sunny day, the weather is opposite to what we experienced this time of year the last 6 years. Perhaps this is climate change happening before our very eyes? There has not been a major tropical cyclone this year so far although there have been intense (torrential) rain episodes on many days the past months and news reports mention that the El Nino this year will threaten our water supply. One thing's for sure though. El Nino is usually followed by a year associated with bad weather and heavy rains. That is not a good thing to look forward to.
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Another Ondoy

I couldn't sleep last night because of the heavy rains that until now have not let up. Tropical Storm Mario (TS Fung-wong) is currently battering Greater Manila with rains reminiscent of a typhoon almost exactly 5 years ago. On Sept. 26, 2009, Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) poured a month's worth of rain over a 6-hour period that indundated much of Metro Manila and its surrounding areas. We had to retreat to the 2nd floor of our former home as waters rose to what we estimate to be just under 6 feet inside our house. Outside, it was much deeper. Our two vehicles were totally submerged by the floods (one was lost the other resurrected) and we lost a lot of more sentimental, personal items especially in my parents' home in Cainta where photo albums, books and others perished in the floods.

It took us 4 years to save up for a new home in an area that is flood-proof (as well as relatively safe from other potential disasters as well). A few more floods including monsoon- (Habagat) generated ones encouraged us and reinforced our resolve to transfer residence where we could finally have peace of mind in times like this. So far, our investment has paid off although windy typhoon Glenda took a big piece of our mango tree that only last summer provided us with a bountiful harvest of fruits. Today, the product of our hard work is validated with "Ondoy-like" floods all around Greater Manila.

Like Ondoy 5 years ago, I think Mario caught a lot of people off-balance, unprepared for the heavy rains and the floods that now resemble if not exceeding Ondoy's. News reports this morning stated that Mario has so far dumped the equivalent of half a month's rain in Greater Manila. It's been about 6 hours since then and the rains have not stopped. The weather bureau has issued an advisory saying these rains will continue until tonight and so that means more rains and deeper floods. We can only hope that the rains will finally stop and the floods subside. The conditions outside as I write this is not encouraging and its has become darker in the last few minutes. The rains continue to pour and more reports are coming in about people being evacuated or rescued. There are a lot who are stranded in their houses and those braving the floods to get to safer grounds. I hope we will be alright after this very sad episode.

Keep safe everyone!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Typhoon acid test

As I write this short post, there is a typhoon approaching Metro Manila and Rizal. This will be our first typhoon since we moved to our new home in Antipolo. One of our criteria when we chose the location of our home was that it should be flood-free, meaning the area has no experience of flooding. We have experienced and survived some severe flood events including the record floods of Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009 and the freakish Habagat (monsoon) floods of 2012. Last year, as our new home was under construction, we experienced two more floods but with us already looking forward to moving out of our old home. Fortunately for us but unfortunate to so many that we were spared from Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year.

And so, we will finally have what many would term as an acid test with Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun). This is the first significant typhoon of the 2014 season and the first of several that we expect to affect our area this year given the average number of typhoons passing through the Philippines in a year. While I am not worried about floods anymore, it is the winds that has me concerned. Strong winds are always dangerous as it can bring damage in a number of ways. I have no doubt about the sturdiness of our home but then there might be debris flying from anywhere that could bring about the damage. Hopefully, there would be no significant stuff carried by the winds that we expect to batter our area by early morning tomorrow.

Whatever the case may be, I implore on everyone living in the areas along the path of the typhoon to be ready, be prepared for what may or may not happen. You cannot say you're prepared until the rains pour in and the winds start howling. You can only confirm your preparedness once the typhoon passes and you make your assessment of what had actually happened. I think this is one case where it is always safe to expect the worst rather than be complacent.

Keep safe!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Aftermath of Maring and Habagat

We are thankful that we were spared of the worst. Compared to the floods in Cavite, Bulacan and Pampanga (at least based on what I have read or seen on TV) they had much difficult situations there. In the case of Cavite, many towns are now still underwater and the experience there seems quite new to many based on the interviews on TV and radio. Many in Kawit, Bacoor and Noveleta have put the blame on a major tollway project as well as residential and industrial subdivision developments in the province. While politicians, the DPWH and others have tried to explain that Cavitex and subdivision developments are not to blame and that the engineering designs were sound, it is uncertain whether these designs were really sound in the first place and if they were, if these were implemented the right way. Based on experience, developers have been generally irresponsible with drainage and the floods in Marikina, Cainta, Pasig and Taytay are a testament to this fault. With the availability of information today including old maps of these areas, we now know that much of what are now residential subdivisions were rice fields with natural waterways like creeks and streams, and ponds. Most of these have been covered and replaced by ill-designed drainage systems resulting in excessive runoffs that now cause the floods.

Flooded residential street with few cars of residents brave enough not to take their vehicles to higher ground
Some homes have had their ground floors and garages elevated to cope with floods. This is often the case in areas where location is actually good and conditions are better through most of the year. I think this is part of what you call climate adaptation.
In the more urbanized areas like Manila, Pasay and Quezon City, drainage systems are quite antiquated and obviously can not handle the amount of rainfall that we get these days. In fact, even with new culverts installed in many parts of Manila, these areas are still flooded though residents say that at least the levels can be lower than before and flood waters recede faster than before. To me, this still is not enough and the DPWH should re-assess and revise their design standards to address the intense rainfalls that have now become regular. I think that in these cases, over-designing drainage systems will pay off not just in the long run but in the immediate term. Perhaps the much maligned pork barrel funds should be funneled into these drainage and flood control projects considering these are very immediate concerns for a lot of people. It wouldn't take overnight to solve these flooding problems but we need to get a head start and be transparent with the way we implement such projects. A lot of lives are dependent on the success of such projects and this is clear from the images that we get on the news reports about the aftermath and impacts of the storm intensified monsoon rains the past few days.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Baha uli! Here we go again!

I think I may have spoken too soon yesterday when I wrote that we were lucky for now. It seems the "now" applied to yesterday and not for the entirety of this rain event. The tropical storm up north and near Taiwan is practically stationary and all forecasts state that it will be moving only by tomorrow afternoon or evening. Maring (International: Trami) has been there since the weekend and has intensified monsoon rains. Its impacts have caused devastation over a large area of the country, particularly in the island of Luzon. Hard hit is Mega Manila and our residence has not been spared by the intense rains the past few days. Below is a satellite photo from the Weather Underground showing the tropical storm and the rains (clouds) it has attracted.


As yesterday's floods subsided, we thought we could finally breathe more easily. But then this morning it was not to be as heavy rains poured almost everywhere, and causing much misery to all. We can now only pray that the rains will finally let up and for the floods to subside quickly. We only have our faith to keep ourselves together in this difficult time.
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Lucky for now

I had difficulty sleeping last night due to the intermittent heavy rains that caused flooding all around Mega Manila including where we live. However, unlike last year's floods brought about by monsoon rains, we were lucky this time that the flood waters only reached our home's garage gate instead of entering our home. Last year during a similar Habagat event, it was knee deep inside our house but that was much better than when we were inundated by Ondoy (Ketsana) when it was neck-deep in our house!

Of course, this will not be the last of the heavy rains expected for Metro Manila and its surrounding areas for this year. We are only in the third week of August and the local weather bureau has stated its forecasts of a number of typhoons to be expected during this wet season. Typically, that is a period that lasts until November with the occasional typhoon or two in December. And so we would have to brace ourselves and pray that the next events would not be as bad as this current one. Hopefully, too, this sends another strong message to whoever is in charge and responsible to hurry up with whatever flood mitigation projects need to be done to improve the lives of a lot of people regularly affected by floods.
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Have a safe night...

I was planning to post something on the National Art Gallery of the National Museum of the Philippines tonight. Unfortunately, I was unable to sort through so many photos I took of works by Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Jose Rizal, Fernando Amorsolo, Vicente Manansala, Guillermo Tolentino, and other prominent national artists. I will do my sorting in the next few days but hopefully in a more relaxed state. I say relaxed because it has been raining hard in Metro Manila the past 2 days and the weather bureau has just issued a "red" warning indicating heavy rains in the next few hours and the possibility of severe flooding in low-lying areas.

We have taken precautions for the eventuality of a flood but are hopeful it won't be of the scale of last year's Habagat (monsoon) or, huwag naman sana, 2009's Ondoy. I am sure that a lot of people won't be able to get a good sleep tonight and vigilance is really key if we are to reduce the impacts of such rains (i.e., floods and the damage to lives and properties they cause). Already, there are many reports of flooding all around Metro Manila and this because of inclement weather due to the monsoon being intensified by a tropical depression near Taiwan, north of the Philippines.

We can only pray that things will go well and that the rains will pause.  Given the uncertainties associated with weather systems, let's just hope that the weather will improve tomorrow and we can finally breathe a sigh of relief soon.

Have a safe night to all!
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Catch of the day

I came home to stories about how our helper caught a fish while walking our lab Troy when there was was a cessation in the rains this afternoon. The fish probably was swimming in the creek near our home and wandered unto the road when flash floods hit the street near the creek due to the heavy rains from last night. When the waters receded it wasn't able to go back to the creek via the drainage and so got trapped in a puddle along the street. Troy apparently saw the fish and suddenly became quiet as he observed the creature along the road. Recognizing the fresh live fish as a variety that's common on the dinner table, Manang caught the fish with our dog observing and well-behaved. They walked home with their catch and now it's in a shallow container awaiting its fate tomorrow.

Holding area for tomorrow's meal?
Close up of the strong swimmer
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Revisiting Ondoy/Ketsana

Today's post is quite timely considering I'm holed up at home due to another typhoon. At this time, Pedring (international name: Nesat) is pounding Northern Luzon with its powerful winds and driving rain. It has already caused a storm surge strong enough to have inundated Roxas Boulevard and places such as the US Embassy. The noontime news show the highway to be passable only by boat.

Exactly two years to the day, Metro Manila and much of its adjacent areas especially Rizal were submerged by water from unprecedented rainfall. It was the equivalent of a month's rain pouring unto Metro Manila over a 6 hour period. And the result was devastation everywhere with more than 400 people killed according to official estimates. Much of the Marikina Valley including where we lived and my parent's house were deep in muddy water with Marikina City one of the hardest hit by floods that reached up to the second level of many homes.

Following is a photo journal of the flooding brought about by Ondoy:

September 26, 2009: Day One

We woke up to find floodwaters rising so fast that we only had time to take one car parked outside to our garage. We thought the flood won't even enter our garage.

The two cars didn't stand a chance as the water rose steadily. We made the painful but helpless decision to abandon thoughts about the cars. Instead, we concentrated on saving much of what we had at the first level of our home. These included books, documents, and appliances that we could carry upstairs.

We were able to set-up a makeshift kitchen on our second level where we could cook. An old dining table from our former apartment that was converted into a working table was again made into a dining table. We left our dining table and other furniture downstairs. Fortunately, most of them were made of hardwood and floated. They were mostly undamaged by the floods.

We couldn't save our sofa but these were eventually cleaned and dried a week after Ondoy and a couple of other typhoons. We still use them today in our living room, a testament of sorts to surviving disaster. The photo above shows the flood level on our first floor in mid-afternoon. Our helper was a bit traumatized as she had not experienced such flooding in her life (same with the Clairvoyant). She went back to her hometown in December but returned the following year. She's still with us today.

This was what our first floor dining area looked like when we finally decided to call it a day. The big item floating in the center is our refrigerator. Surprisingly, water was not able to enter the unit and most of the food inside was preserved. There was still ice in the freezer and whatever items we were able to cook in the following days. The ref was not damaged and after cleaning and drying, it went back into operation as if nothing had happened to it.

September 27, 2009: Day Two

We awoke early the following morning to survey the devastation. Peering out of our bedroom window, we could see the rooftops of our 2 cars in the garage. Ondoy's waters were actually deeper and we couldn't see the rooftops at one point during the night. Two of our garbage bins apparently floated around and found their place atop my old Crown. Note the muddy waters and the mud that settled atop the cars.

Our neighbor's cars didn't fare any better and one could see two submerged vehicles in the photos above - one black and one red Lancer. We were a bit lucky because we found out later that other cars floated, drifted and collided with others in the basketball courts in our subdivision.

This was what our dining area looked like mid-morning of the 27th when the flood waters were receding. The highwater mark is indicated by the watermark on the curtain on the upper left part of the photo.

This was our kitchen after we had cleaned out the mud from the tops. We had to clean-up the all the time so that the mud wouldn't have the chance to harden. Fortunately, we had a good supply of disinfectant that we could use at the time.

Meanwhile, people were already boating outside our home using makeshift rafts.

September 28, 2009:

That's me talking to our next door neighbor whose home improvement project was delayed because of the typhoon. The waters have already receded but the gargantuan task of cleaning up was just starting for many of our neighbors whose homes were lower than ours.

The mud on our garage was quite thick and we only got to clean it up after the cars were towed to the repair shops. The Crown survived Ondoy but is practically "comatose" and is now garaged in a repair shop, still awaiting parts that may not be found anymore.

This was what one of our cars' engine looked like when we finally had the chance to inspect them. Today, our Mazda 3 is working perfectly, and you wouldn't guess it was a flooded unit except perhaps with the new sound system and the lights that show remnants of mud from Ondoy's floods. We had the air condition unit, panel board, and airbags replaced. We also had it detailed and made sure about the fluids. Fortunately, the computer box was not damaged. Even so, we spent a small fortune in repairs.

This was what our living area looked like post Ondoy. We're thankful to officemates who came by to help in the cleaning. UP wasn't flooded and most of my staff lived on campus and extended helping hands for the cleaning effort.

A look at our makeshift dining area in one of our second floor rooms. Notice all the things we packed inside this room. We have 3 rooms on our second level and ample space for most of our things. We also have 2 toilets upstairs so we had no problems regarding sanitation.

Two months after Ondoy, we had our home repaired and repainted in time for the Christmas season. We are just hopeful these days that with every typhoon that comes our way, there won't be another Ondoy.






Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Information dissemination in times of flooding

I admire the current Marikina City administration for being on top of the situation with regards to their constituents. Part of this is their transparency in providing scientific information on rainfall and the levels of the Marikina River. Such information are good references especially since one can easily compare the situation in Marikina with those of adjoining areas given that the streams and other waterways connect to the Marikina and Pasig Rivers. Below are links to the information derived from the DOST and Marikina's very own local monitoring system.

River level:
http://syncsysph.com/councilmarikinagovph/data/riverlevel.html

Rainfall:
http://syncsysph.com/councilmarikinagovph/data/rainfall.html

One can easily navigate the site for other pertinent information.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ondoy all over again?

It's Saturday early morning and I'm wide awake. The simple reason for this is supposedly another storm watch. The storm, however, is already creeping past Batanes with such a slow pace that it's bringing a lot of rainfall to Luzon and especially the NCR. There's a flood just outside the door of our home and so far, the water seemed to stop rising. I'm informed that its much worse elsewhere so I won't complain much of this experience, only that much could have been done to avert such flooding.

The news have been reporting that Metro Manila's drainage system is more than 35 years old (probably much older) and clearly does not have the capacity for today's rains. Combine this with the fact that we seemed not to have learned our lessons in as far as garbage is concerned. Evidence of this is that most footage shown on TV and my observations when crossing the bridge across Marikina River earlier this afternoon show a lot of garbage floating along the rivers, streams and flooded streets.

Well at least now, there's a ton of info including more from PAGASA. In fact, their info on the status of dams and the flood monitor for major water systems in the NCR have been quite helpful. I don't even remember these being available back in 2009. [Click here for the status of monitored dams in Luzon Island.] Yet, much is desired about rainfall information. Friends have been posting questions about whatever happened to the much vaunted Doppler radars the government acquired to supposedly inform the public about rainfall intensity. Such info could help at least warn people of impending doom especially after such info was not available back in Sept 2009.

It looks like I won't be sleeping much tonight and it is already early morning. It's quite tough knowing the waters could enter the house anytime and especially if it rains hard again tonight. A lot of people prayed or are praying right now that the rains would stop and that the floods will recede soon and hopefully, quickly. I'm just glad the Clairvoyant is in Singapura and won't have to experience this. I am also hopeful that this won't turn out to be a sequel to Ondoy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stormwatch in early May

I didn't get to sleep much last night. It wasn't really because the Clairvoyant happened to be in Singapore nor was it due to our two dogs insisting to give me company. It was mainly out of being so aware and so conscious about the heavy rains that started pouring shortly after the conclusion of the television broadcast of Manny Pacquiao's boxing match against an overwhelmed Shane Mosley. I guess it is already part of me that I go into something like a vigil mode when I sense something extreme about the weather. I have experienced too many typhoons and had waded into too many floods in my lifetime that I know just how strong certain rains are based on sound alone.

It was quite alarming for me already when, during the drive from Novaliches to Cainta, the rains started pouring and there was practically zero visibility for the entire stretch of Commonwealth Avenue. I estimated that I encountered 5 flooded sections of that highway and had to be thankful of the buses who literally parted waters so that lighter vehicles could move forward in their wakes. Entering the UP campus was a blessing since the drainage system is usually excellent and flash floods are rare because of the elevation. Katipunan, however, offered 2 flooded sections but these were easily traversed as one only had to keep to the lanes closest to the median where the water was negligible. I was in for a surprise though when after traveling along Marcos Highway quite unhindered, I encountered a flood just before reaching Dela Paz in front of a small hospital where both the DPWH and Manila Water were conducting works intended for drainage and water supply, respectively. It was deep enough and many of us motorists braved the waters, one after the other, and mindful of the water lapping the underside of our vehicles and likely to enter our tailpipes. From thereon, I only had to deal with one more flash flood along Imelda Avenue right after Vista Verde and in front of a Phoenix gas station. That's a total of 9 floods I had to go through yesterday, and silently I prayed that my vehicle won't stall and that the rains would cease.

I didn't expect the rains to be that strong and I must admit that I let my guard off a little as I dismissed a tropical depression as not at all alarming at this time of year. After all, it is still early May and only last week we had experienced scorching weather with temperatures reaching highs of 35 and 36 degrees Celsius in Metro Manila. It was supposed to be the dry season and summer in most parts of the country. This, however, seems to be a false assumption now that we got drenched yesterday and are expected to be drenched again today. Our climate now seems so delicate and or weather systems seem to become more unpredictable.

With state of the art equipment claimed to have been acquired by the DOST-PAGASA much was and is expected for the local weather agency to at least provide guided estimates of rainfall. A simple comparison will suffice in making people aware of how much rain is expected. Our knowledge for example that Typhoon Ketsana/Ondoy poured something like 58mm per hour of rain makes for an excellent benchmark for what people can easily visualize as what could happen if given a figure to compare with such reference. It is simple, straightforward science that if applied properly would save us some sleepless nights.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Flood control

It's only February but it already seemed a good time to write about flooding and flood control in light of the rains that drenched and ravaged many areas around the world including Surigao and Agusan in the southern Philippines. In other countries like Australia, cyclones or typhoons caused floods that were unprecedented in that country's history, providing images of a first world nation experiencing third world misery. The images from Queensland particularly caught my attention as it brought back memories of typhoon Ondoy (international name Ketsana) in September 2009. Closer to home and freshly related by a close friend were floods in Surigao that were worse than what they usually experienced this time of year. There were no typhoons as the season for these weather systems were usually from June to November but the heavy rains resulted in chest-high floods in areas where they usually experienced knee-high inundation.

The floods in Australia and Eastern Mindanao serve as reminders of the impacts of climate change and of what can be experienced later in Metro Manila and the Marikina Valley should La Nina hold tru to its reputation during the coming wet season. The floods should serve as warnings to the general public about the need to be prepared. The floods should serve as reminders for our leaders like those in the front-line government agencies like the DPWH and the MMDA, and particularly for local governments to make the necessary preparationsto ensure that another Ondoy does not happen.

Last year was a lucky one in that we were spared from Ondoy-like floods. Lucky because there were very few preparations for the possibility of flooding. Both national and local governments seemed to have been distracted by the elections and the transitions that immediately followed. Nevermind that one issue during election campaigns were government response to the floods of the previous year. Nevermind that many flood control projects were shelved or delayed due to the election bans. Of course, those who were managing the dams continued to be under close scrutiny of a public wary of the damage brought about by the alleged irregularity in the release of floodwaters in 2009 that led to the unprecedented floods in Luzon. But the responsibility for flood control is not theirs alone and are primarily in the hands of infrastructure agencies and local governments.

I am so far satisfied with the efforts in the vicinity of my residence. The drainage along Marcos Highway went underway late last year and continued this year with the construction of larger capacity drainage systems and the clearing and dredging of existing canals from Masinag down to Santolan where the system connects to the Marikina River. From the looks of the works along both sides of Marcos Highway, I am at least confident that the drainage system will be able to resist the stronger typhoons expected later this year. I am realistic when it comes to this things considering I've had enough experiences of floods in my lifetime. Like what a previous MMDA Chair who was also mayor of Marikina said, it may not necessarily mean that floods won't occur but at least it will be less serious in the sense that instead of waste-high floods, there will only be knee-deep water. Perhaps, instead of having floods over 3 days, it will only be over 1 day or maybe even in a matter of a few hours.

This evening, as I was walking my dog, I took the opportunity to inspect the creek near our home. I saw earlier in the day when I passed the area that dredging works that started in late January were already completed. This evening, I saw for myself that the embankments that collapsed around the time of Ondoy have already been rebuilt and that the creek has been cleaned and cleared of debris that could hamper the flow of water when the rains finally come. I just hope that the same efforts were exerted in other sections of the creek, which I knew extended to other subdivisions in Antipolo, Cainta and Marikina.

We, too must be actively involved in efforts to prevent another Ondoy. Of course, such efforts include lobbying for programs and projects like the construction and maintenance of flood control and drainage systems. But on the more basic level there is also a need to pitch-in in terms of waste management. We already know that garbage contributes a lot to the clogging of our waterways. The amount of plastic collected everytime there are waterway clearing operations remind us of the amount of waste that are irresponsibly thrown away. We only hope that the renewed campaign for segregation and the proper disposal of wastes or garbage will not go the way of previous programs that were typical examples now of ningas cogon.

So far, so good. I just hope the flood control and drainage systems will hold come wet season. I know I am ready for the coming rains. But I am at least more confident of our chances given the improvements I've seen for myself. It also helps that the Clairvoyant is safely away in our second home in Singapore, a city-state that also had flooding experience in the past and have solved these thanks to massive investments in a comprehensive drainage system.

Friday, January 29, 2010

One down, one to go

The Clairvoyant finally got her car after three and a half months at Mazda repair shop. Three and a half months! And to think that we even pleaded to the casa last October to have the car fixed and ready to go before Christmas! The price tag was a pocket-emptying, passbook-ripping 248,000 pesos; down from the over 280,000 peso initial bill after some discounts were given. We could've bought a nice used car for that amount. But what the heck, it needed to be paid if only to finally conclude this chapter of a still unfinished book co-authored by one Ondoy.

The Crown of course is still at the repair shop. It has been quite difficult to find parts and it has yet to go through a paint job although the body repairs have been made. When it finally rolls off the shop then probably I can start calling it quits with the first car I ever bought. It'll probably be the first car I'll sell despite the sentimental value I've placed on it. Oh well, farewells are necessary as I am now committed to another - a Corolla...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Post deluge

My mind was full of ideas of what to write after going through what water resources engineering or hydraulic engineering textbooks term as a 40- or 50-year flood. From my experience (and I am a certified flood veteran) I am more inclined to say that what hit us last September 26 was actually a 25-year flood. I am basing this interpretation from the 1985 flood that inundated our village of Kasibulan in Cainta. Our whole family and all others from the subdivision had to evacuate our home when floods reached waist-deep at road level. We found safe haven in the factory across Imelda Avenue. The guards allowed us to seek refuge in the huge steel structures that housed heavy machinery no longer operating after the factory shutdown because of a labor problem. The striking workers actually assisted many families in getting to higher, safer ground that day.

Fortunately, no one from our village drowned from that 1985 flood. But it left a lot of deep scars that painfully reopened every year for the next 10 years that we were to experience flooding - not as terrible as 1985's but some comparable if you weren't used to them. A lot of memories were lost in those floods. My parents' wedding photos were lost including many of their photos before they got married. We were able to save many photos though - mostly mine and I'm afraid those were all damaged if not wiped out by typhoon Ondoy. We shared the same losses with our neighbors and made people closer in our village. In fact, we there were many of use there who studied at Lourdes Mandaluyong and one of our neighbors happened to be the high school principal at the time. Mr. Ben Dayo would always vouch for us when we claimed we had to miss classes because we had to help in cleaning our houses after the floods receded. I believe those floods have somehow influenced me as I grew up.

I wanted to believe that the floods in Town & Country wouldn't be deeper than what I had experienced in Kasibulan. I desperately wanted to believe that it could get deeper. But it did. When the clairvoyant and I bought a house there, one of the information I sought was about flood experience. Referring to the designs of the houses as well as neighbors stories, our home was supposed to be safe with the deepest flood experience in our area reaching only our gate. We were fortunate to have ample space in our second floor rooms. The clairvoyant and I were able to transfer our books and other personal properties with the help of Manang Aileen with an efficiency anyone can be proud off. Most importantly, we didn't have to abandon our home like many of our neighbors and we always had non-perishable food and drinks stocked. Many, we discovered afterwards, weren't as lucky as we were. We all lost our vehicles that day. Most cars went under overnight and emerged still parked in what everyone thought were garages that were flood-safe. But that's another story.

I was able to save my stamp collection from my parents' house in Kasibulan. Many items from an old brief case (what was my school bag when I was in high school)survived including old letters and bookmarks I had put aside as souvenirs from visits to Kamakura. These included old bookmarks from Tatay's visit to Kamakura in the 1960's.

The past days were blessings in that another super typhoon veered away from Metro Manila and still another will not hit the country. I honestly want to believe again that I won't experience another flood of that magnitude in say, 25 years (not the 40 years that would probably be much more damaging). If there was one thing I didn't want to share with the clairvoyant I guess an actual experience of such a flood would be it. But we did share the experience and we came out survivors (not victims as other people might label us) and I would rather believe that we came out better and will be stronger for this. We still have, after all, our faith.