Rains caused by combined effects of tropical storm Leepi (Emong) and southwest monsoon flooded Metro Manila suburbs as schools in the affected areas in the capital ordered class suspensions early Wednesday.
Leepi, the sixth major weather disturbance to visit the country grazed the Philippines’ eastern portion, but its effects were strong enough to cause flooding once more in the capital region’s thoroughfares, particularly that in the Manila and Quezon City and Caloocan in the northwest.
Traffic stood at a standstill in some areas as roads were unpassable for hours.
Aside from Metro Manila, heavy rains were also experienced in the Central Luzon provinces of Zambales, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.
Leepi carried maximum sustained winds of 75 kph and brought 5-15 mm of rain per hour according to the Philippine Geophysical and Astronomic Services Administration (PAGASA).
Leepi is expected to exit the country’s area of responsibility on Thursday morning and head for Okinawa, Japan.
On Wednesday afternoon, President Benigno Aquino III, met with officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to address the flooding problem in Metro Manila and to find solutions to de-clog storm drains of garbage and non-biodegradable detritus.
Authorities in Central Luzon had also been placed on alert.
Earlier in the day, schools and universities in Metro Manila’s northwest portions had issued a no classes declaration to avoid students from being stranded in floodwaters. There were no disruption in flights or conduct of business in government and private sector.
Last Monday, heavy rains lasting for several hours inundated major thoroughfares of the city including the eight lane-wide Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or EDSA —-Metro Manila’s main road traffic artery. The highway resembled a big parking lot of vehicles unable to move forward because of the flood.
Reports said that aside from garbage that clogged storm drains, among the cause of flooding were unfinished government road projects as well as drainage blockages that were intentionally placed by unscrupulous pedal rickshaw drivers so that they can charge extra from ferrying passengers from the flooded streets.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said the government is bent on removing informal settlers from waterways and hazard areas.
“We intend to remove these people from the waterways not just to clear these areas of structures that cause flooding, but also to keep them safe from danger once powerful storms arrive in the country,” he said recently in Pasay City.
Roxas led government efforts to step up its disaster preparedness program with a flood drill in village 201 on the banks of Tripa de Gallina, a narrow waterway in the Southern Metro Manila suburb.
Roxas said that more than 20 typhoons hit the country every year, generating floods and landslides that bring death and destruction to much of the country.
“The safety of some 60,000 informal settler-families living on geo-hazard areas in 11 cities in the metropolis is the overriding concern of the government,” Roxas said.