MANILA, AUGUST 8, 2012 (STANDARD) By Joyce Pangco Panares - The Monsoon rain that had been pouring for one week on Tuesday was described as worse than the rain dumped by Ondoy in 2009 as it surpassed the rain brought by that storm and affected thousands of families in 11 regions, officials said.

The aftermath of the continuous rain that pounded Luzon and brought out the best and the worst of this nation. Danny Pata

Mahar Lagmay, executive director of the Department of Science and Technology, said the rain that fell in the past 22 hours had reached 472 millimeters, which was higher than the 455 millimeters that Ondoy dumped in 24 hours.

The rainfall had turned Metro Manila into an inland sea, flooded areas that do not normally become flooded, and affected 199,485 families in 11 regions. Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo joined National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chief Benito Ramos at the operation center on Tuesday to monitor the government’s relief work.

More than half of Metro Manila was flooded by Monday night, bringing the 638.55-square-kilometer capital to a standstill on Tuesday and dislocating close to 200,000 families in the National Capital Region and in nine neighboring provinces.

Outside of Metro Manila, the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan were the worst hit by the heavy flooding.

“It’s like waterworld,” Ramos said of Metro Manila on Tuesday afternoon as the government conducted rescue operations.

He said the severely affected areas included the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Quezon, Manila, Las Piñas, Marikina, Taguig, Muntinlupa and Parañaque—11 of the metropolis’ 17 constituent cities.

“All cities and towns experienced flooding,” Ramos said.

“The sea and the flood waters looked like one single body of water.”

Ramos was not able to provide an immediate count of the casualties, but a rain-induced landslide in Quezon City buried 12 people alive in Commonwealth village Tuesday morning. Five of the victims were retrieved but died while being treated at the East Avenue Medical Center in the city.

Rescue teams from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine Red Cross, National Police and the military were still trying to search and rescue other flood victims late Tuesday afternoon.

But their efforts were hampered by the unavailability of government helicopters, which had been grounded because of the zero visibility brought about by the pouring rain. Trucks could not rescue the flood victims because of the flooded and impassable roads.

Television news footage showed rescuers dangling on ropes to save children and other residents, who had climbed to the top their flooded houses waiting for help.

“We need to be rescued,” cried one Josephine Cruz who was stranded in her two-story house with 11 other people, including her 83-year-old mother.

“We can’t get out because the floodwaters are now higher than people.”

The government put up at least 100 evacuation centers in the affected areas, half of which were in Metro Manila, to accommodate some 199,485 families.

The weather bureau said the rain spawned by the southwest monsoon had surpassed the amount of rainfall during Tropical Storm Ondoy in September 2009.

The rainfall over the 22 hours from 4:45 p.m. Monday to 3 p.m. Tuesday reached 472 mm, while Ondoy’s record was at 455 mm in 24 hours.

The La Mesa dam, which supplies water to the capital of 12 million people, spilled excess water early Tuesday into the rivers flowing into Quezon City, as well as into the neighborhoods of Malabon, Valenzuela and Caloocan, where several villages were submerged.

Along the swollen Marikina River, police were deployed to move more than 5,000 residents away from the riverbanks in what Vice Mayor Jose Cadiz said was an enforced evacuation With Ferdinand Fabella, Jonathan Fernandez, Rio N. Araja, Gigi Muñoz-David, Macon Ramos-Araneta, Jess Malabanan, Orlan Mauricio, and Butch Gunio

Gov’t urged to check dump sites amid heavy rains By Christian Cardiente | Posted on August 08, 2012 | 5:02pm | 53 views

[PHOTO -Five people died after a row of houses collapsed in barangay Litex along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.]

Waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition has asked relevant government units to conduct immediate inspection and assessment of waste disposal facilities following persistent and widespread flooding in the metropolis and nearby provinces.

It specifically urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and local government units (LGUs) hosting garbage transfer stations, dumpsites or landfills to fully assess the physical conditions of the facilities amid the inclement weather.

“The site inspection is crucial as garbage disposal facilities are prone to flooding, soil erosion, ‘garbageslide’ and other health and environmental hazards,” said Edwin Alejo, EcoWaste coordinator.

Alejo warned of possible damage to the retention walls of dump sites and landfills, caused by the softening of the soil due to heavy rains.

He recalled the Payatas and Irisan dumpsite tragedies in 2000 and 2011.

“We propose that [the] inspection be conducted in an open and transparent manner involving residents, barangay officials and civil society representatives,” he emphasized.

According to the group, the Pier 18 Garbage Station in Tondo, Manila and the dumpsites and/or landfills in (i) Payatas, Quezon City, (ii) Antipolo City, Rodriguez and San Mateo, Rizal, (iii) Tanza, Navotas City, (iv) Norzagaray and San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan, and (v) even the one being constructed in Salambao, Obando, Bulacan are located in environmentally-critical areas.

The group maintained that while site inspection is imperative, garbage disposal facilities can never be entirely safe even with the most expensive liners and pollution mitigation measures. It echoed a warning by experts that “today’s state-of-the-art landfills are expected to be threats to groundwater quality for hundreds to thousands of years after closure.”

Instead, EcoWaste proposes investments on clean production, product redesign, toxics use reduction, reduced packaging, eco-friendly consumption, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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