“THIS has never happened before in the uptown areas. Our flood problems were always concentrated in the downtown. The problem has reached the uptown,” said Cebu City Councilo Jerry Guardom the Council chair for infrastructure, referring to the badly inundated Gen. Maxilom Ave. on the night of Oct. 13, 2020, when the heavens dumped 405,000 barrels of water per square kilometer in the city, according to the weather bureau’s rain gauges.
Well, surprise always arrives for anyone short of foresight. For years now, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has been warning against increasing volume of rain due to heat spikes in our part of the world. Yet, here we are again, always experts in matters of hindsight.
Unfortunately, hindsight can’t reclaim the lives of three people that the onrush of dirt water swept on the night of Oct. 13 in Cebu City. Flash flood that broke into houses in Barangay Lorega San Miguel killed an elderly, while the deluged Kamputhaw River snatched the life out of a 49-year-old man in Barangay Busay. As of press time, authorities and volunteers are out searching for the body of a 16-year-old boy who disappeared in the flood. Reports said there is also another one being searched in Mandaue City.
We were only in the periphery of tropical depression Ofel’s warpath, and yet our share of the “torrential rain,” which peaked for an hour and a half, at once displaced 163 families in the fringes of the Butuanon River in Mandaue City. Immediately, the flooding exposed six barangays in that city as hazard areas. Post-downpour, we’re pulling a number of families in landslide-prone areas. Suddenly, floodwater rose waist-deep uptown, wreaking havoc in business offices, including a bank, along the road, the aftermath of which saw a bed of muck that the City’s heavy equipment had to haul the following day to make the road passable again.
Death and discomfort will perpetually haunt us for as long as the government and ourselves fail to address the problem of flooding. While the health crisis has waned to manageable level as of the moment, perhaps government can deploy our resources creatively in addressing the problem. Drop the old, palliative ways conceived in emergency meetings and by ad hoc committees, and maybe create a body of experts from different sectors that can buckle down and cook up better ideas. Last we know, we were dubbed as a topnotch “creative city.” Whatever that means, it sounds more like a challenge now.