Torrential rains flood half of Metro Manila

WET AND WEARY::More than 200,000 people have packed evacuation centers as the capital was paralyzed for a second straight day. More rain is expected

AFP, MANILA

Wed, Aug 21, 2013 - Page 1

More than 200,000 flood-battered residents of the Philippine capital fled their homes yesterday as relentless monsoon rains, which have killed eight people, submerged more than half of Metro Manila.

Streets turned into rivers with water rising above 2m in some parts of the megacity of 12 million people, while vast areas of neighboring farming regions on the main island of Luzon were also inundated.

“I was crying when I saw my house being filled with water,” said Edita Selda, 68, a sidewalk vendor who was forced to evacuate from her home in a shantytown along a major river in Manila that burst its banks.

“I chained the door shut so our belongings wouldn’t be washed away. But ... the water is moving so fast,” she said.

More than half of Metro Manila was flooded yesterday morning, although that figure subsided to about 20 percent by the evening, authorities said.

In one part of the capital region, 47.5cm of rain fell in the 24 hours to Monday morning, according to Esperanza Cayanan, a meteorologist in charge of Manila for the state weather forecaster.

She said this was the same amount which normally fell for all of August, already one of the wettest months of the year.

More than 200,000 people have sought shelter in evacuation centers, the head of the Philippine Red Cross, Gwendolyn Peng, told ABS-CBN television.

Countless others were forced to wait out the floods in their water-filled homes, while the less fortunate sat on sidewalks with only plastic sheets for protection from the rain.

“We have had nothing to eat, nothing to wear. A few people went to houses on higher ground, but most of us had nowhere to go,” said Dinah Claire Velasco, 44, a resident of a blue-collar coastal district on the outskirts of Manila.

“My children and other people were able to seek refuge on the second floor of my house, but a lot of others had to just sit on their roofs... We’re waiting for rescue, for help, even just food,” she said.

While no one was reported killed in Metro Manila, five more people were confirmed to have drowned in flooded farming provinces to the north, according to the government’s disaster management council. Among them were a one-year-old baby and a 64-year-old man, both of whom drowned in the rural province of Pampanga.

This brought the confirmed death toll from two days of flooding across Luzon to eight.

The economic toll has also started to grow, with the stock exchange, government offices and schools in Manila closed for a second consecutive day.

The state weather agency said the rain would continue into today.