Floods paralyze Luzon

Manila, Philippines --- Torrential rains spawned by the southwest monsoon (hanging habagat) that was enhanced by tropical storm "Maring" since Sunday caused widespread flooding in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, submerging residential areas, triggering massive traffic jams, and stranding thousands of commuters.

At least three persons were killed following the heavy rains - one each in Cavite, Quezon, and Ilocos Sur.

The floods and heavy rains forced Malacañang to cancel government work and classes in Metro Manila and certain areas yesterday.

"Upon the recommendation of PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), the Executive Secretary (Paquito Ochoa Jr.) has ordered the suspension of classes in all levels in Pangasinan, Benguet, Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Occidental Mindoro, and Metro Manila," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Ochoa also authorized the suspension of work in government offices in Metro Manila, except those involved in disaster risk reduction and management, Lacierda said.

At the height of the heavy downpour, when water as high as neck-deep were recorded, PAGASA raised the rainfall warning to red, the highest alert warning Sunday until early yesterday morning. This has been lowered to orange warning, the second highest alert level.

'Maring' Pulling Monsoon Flow

Rene Paciente, PAGASA Weather Forecasting Section chief, warned the public that the monsoon rains will prevail until Wednesday.

Paciente said the "Maring" is "strongly pulling the monsoon flow inland or toward Luzon, which affected almost all of the areas in the region. "'Maring' is towing the monsoon stronger now than when it was just a tropical depression. Malakas ang hatak kaya buong Luzon ang apektado."

"Light to moderate rains will prevail this today. By Wednesday afternoon, we can expect gradual improvement in weather condition but there will still be some rains," he said.

As of mid-Monday, the storm was at 575 kilometers east of Itbayat, Batanes.

By early Thursday, "Maring" could already be outside the country's vicinity, Paciente said.

As of yesterday, a number of areas were still flooded while four major dams in Luzon continue to release excess water from their reservoir.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has deployed a number of rescue teams and flood control personnel to assist local government units in flooded areas where evacuation of residents is needed.

832 Rescued

As of yesterday noon, rescue operations were undertaken in several flooded areas. They have rescued and evacuated 832 families or about 3,922 individuals from flooded parts of Manila, Quezon City, Makati, Mandaluyong, San Juan, and Marikina.

Apart from the deployment of rescue personnel, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, who had earlier met with the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Committee officials, said the agency also dispatched "Libreng-Sakay" buses to ferry stranded passengers in flooded areas.

Danny Flores, hydrologist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said they are closely monitoring the status of nine major dams in Luzon, but so far, four of these have opened their spill gates as precautionary measure to the continuous monsoon rains enhanced by "Maring" (international name "Trami").

4 Dams Releasing Water

As of 10 a.m. Monday, Ipo Dam, Binga Dam, Ambuklao Dam, and Magat Dam continue to discharge water.

Ambuklao and Binga Dams in Benguet have the most number of opened spill gates with five and six, respectively.

Currently, their water elevations were recorded at 749.71 meters and 574.13 meters, respectively, or just below the flood season high water level (FSHWL) or spilling level pegged at 752 meters and 575 meters, respectively.

There is no immediate threat to the communities downstream because San Roque Dam's water level is still far from its spilling level, Flores said.

Likewise, one gate of Magat Dam in Isabela had been releasing excess water since Friday. Its water elevation Monday was 191.42 meters or almost 2 meters short of its spilling level.

Ipo Dam in Bulacan also opened one of its spill gates last Sunday. As of Monday morning, its water level was 100.28 meters or a bit over the 100.20-meter FSHWL.

Flores said the ungated La Mesa Dam's level was 79.69. Since it has no gate, once it reaches the 80.15 FSHWL, the La Mesa Dam would overflow, he added.

Roads Closed

Supt. Davy Vicente Limmong, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) police spokesman, said both roads leading to the towns of Boliney, Tubo and Luba in Benguet were not passable due to overflow of rivers while a landslide cut the roads leading to the towns of San Isidro, Bucay and Pidigan.

Limmong said Sinisip-Ampusongan, Kabayan-Bokod, Baguio-Dalupirip and Beckel and Gunel-Bokod in Benguet were not passable as of yesterday afternoon due to landslides.

In Ifugao, the Tinoc Kiangan road was also closed after portions of it were washed out by flashflood.

The same incident also happened to portions of the Cagayan-Tabuk Road.

Flights Cancelled

As of 1 p.m. yesterday, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport's Media Affairs Division reported five round-trip flights cancelled because of the inclement weather.

Included in the cancelled flights were Cebu Pacific flight 5J893 and 5J894 between Manila and Caticlan; CEB flight 5J513 and 5J514 between Manila and San Jose, Mindoro; CEB flight 5J821 and 5J822 between Manila and Virac, Catanduanes; 5J521 and 5J522 between Manila and Naga City; and 5J901 and 5J902 also between Manila and Caticlan in Aklan.

Still Flooded

As of 12:47 p.m. yesterday, flooded areas in Manila were Recto-Morayta, gutter deep; Rizal Ave.-Recto, 1/2 tire deep; Taft Kalaw-Orosa, waist deep; Quezon Blvd.-Paterno (Quiapo), knee-deep; Quezon Blvd.-Soler (Quiapo), knee-deep; UN Ave., 1/2 tire deep; Manila City Hall, knee-deep; Quirino Extension-UN, knee-deep; Jose Abad Santos-Tayuman LTO, waist-deep; Jose Abad Santos-Batangas, 1/2 tire deep; Jose Abad Santos-Tayabas, gutter deep; Recto-Avenida (west-bound), tire deep; Recto-Avenida (east-bound), gutter deep; and Taft-Quirino, gutter deep.

In the southern part of metropolis, Multinational, gutter deep; Sucat to Evacom, waist deep; Malugay Mayapis, knee deep; Barangay Yakal, knee deep; Pasong Tamo, gutter deep; Zapote-Jollibee-Tramo-Tuazon, chest deep; Sucat SM City, waist deep; Moonwalk-Alvarez, waist deep; Pulang Lupa LPC, chest deep; San Isidro/Pamplona 3 LPC, knee/chest deep.

As of Monday morning, the NDRRMC identified some of the areas affected by knee-deep to 10-15 feet deep floodwaters as: Barangay Burgos, Rodriguez, Rizal, chest-deep; Barangays San Jose and Rosario also in Rodriguez, Rizal, knee-deep; Barangay Macabiling, Pook Dila, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, waist-deep; Barangays Dela Paz, Malabanan, Zone 1, Pavilion Area, and San Antonio, all in Biñan City, Laguna, knee-deep;

Barangays San Basilio, San Ramon, San Lucas, Santa Monica, all in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, 5-6 feet deep; main highway in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, 6 feet deep; and barangay roads in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, 10-15 feet deep.(Reports from Ellalyn B. de Vera, Elena L. Aben, and Aaron B. Recuenco, Genalyn D. Kabiling, Anna Liza Villas Alavaren, Rizal S. Obanil, Anjo Perez, JC Bello Ruiz, Madel S. Namit, Jeffrey G. Damicog, Chito A. Chavez, Anthony Giron, Mar T. Supnad, Danny J. Estacio, Freddie G. Lazaro, Nel B. Andrade, Ed Mahilum, and Madelynne Dominguez)

Barangays Canaan and Lacuben in Badoc, Ilocos Norte were also flooded due to overflowing of two creeks in the area.

Thousands Evacuated

In Marikina, 436 families were evacuated from Barangays Concepcion, Malanday and Nangka; (Manila) 68 families from the Baseco area; (Quezon City) 65 families; (Makati) 80 families from Barangays Bangkal, Palanan and Rizal; (Mandaluyong) 125 families from Barangays Addition Hills, Daang Bakal, Mabini, and Poblacion; (San Juan) 58 families from Barangays Salapan, Kabayanan and Balong Bato.

Cavite

Governor Jonvic Remulla reported that Dome Gamban, 34, die while three went missing after the "Tres Cruses" irrigation dam in Tanza broke as it was releasing a big volume of water to Manila Bay at the height of the heavy downpour.

The rains plus the high tide inundated Cavite's first district and second district (Bacoor City).

In Rosario town, Mayor Jose "Nonong" Ricafrente said that all 20 barangays in his turf went underwater.

Reports said that many areas in Noveleta, Kawit, and Cavite City, as well as Bacoor and Imus were virtually turned into a swamp.

Ilocos Sur

Senior Supt. Jemar Modequillo, Ilocos Sur police director, said the body of Engineer Ferdinand Madrid, was found in a creek in Barangay Aboor, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, at the height of the heavy rains.

In Barangay San Basilio, Magsingal town, a family whose house was submerged and swept away by flood was rescued personally by Governor Ryan Singson, who led his staff and security in the daring.

At least 400 families were displaced by flashfloods in the entire province, Director Melchito Castro of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Region 1 said.

Quezon

In Sariaya, Quezon, Rustom V. Decepeda, 12, drowned after a strong current swept him away while trying to cross the Sadyaya River in Sampaloc 1, yesterday morning, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) said. (Reports from Ellalyn B. de Vera, Elena L. Aben, and Aaron B. Recuenco, Genalyn D. Kabiling, Anna Liza Villas Alavaren, Rizal S. Obanil, Anjo Perez, JC Bello Ruiz, Madel S. Namit, Jeffrey G. Damicog, Chito A. Chavez, Anthony Giron, Mar T. Supnad, Danny J. Estacio, Freddie G. Lazaro, Nel B. Andrade, Ed Mahilum, and Madelynne Dominguez)

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