There’s no stopping nature’s wrath, but there’s such a thing as disaster preparedness and mitigation. Some of the measures can be implemented immediately, such as the acquisition of more rubber boats for rescue operations in flooded areas. Others need long-term implementation, such as flood control.
With the torrential flooding since the start of the week, people are again wondering if the capability of weather forecasters to predict the amount of rainfall has improved since typhoon “Ondoy” devastated Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon in September 2009. Since the catastrophic flooding spawned by Ondoy caught everyone – including weather forecasters – by surprise, the government has acquired Doppler radars to improve the accuracy of forecasts for the amount of rainfall. But with the massive flooding in the past two days, many residents of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces surely feel that the forecast for this week’s monsoon rains has been less than accurate.
People are also wondering about the flood control program, which is supposed to continue being funded by the amusement tax in movie houses. Certain parts of Metro Manila are low-lying and easily flooded during high tide. In northern Metro Manila, the problem has been aggravated by the construction of a housing project in Dagat-Dagatan over the natural water catchment, with no provisions for alternate water routes. Modern pumping technology can ease the problem, ensuring that floodwaters will at least subside quickly.
Instead residents in that part of Metro Manila are complaining that the P5.9-billion megadike in Camanava, or Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela, has been useless in easing the regular flooding in the area. The Camanava Flood Control and Drainage Improvement Project was declared 99 percent finished in 2007 – the target date for its completion by the Department of Public Works and Highways. To this day the project remains unfinished. Camanava barangay officials complain that flooding in their communities has worsened since the project was started.
There are at least two more months to go in the typhoon season. Perhaps with many more monsoon rains and typhoons ahead, flood control and mitigation will get urgent attention.