MANILA, Philippines --- Pre-dawn rains caused by the southwest monsoon (habagat) left a great portion of Metro Manila inundated with floodwaters that rendered several roads impassable, causing monstrous traffic jams and stranding commuters yesterday morning.
However, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino said the flooding was "not as bad" as the recent "habagat" episode.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said typhoon "Karen" (international name: Sanba) enhanced the southwest monsoon, which triggered rains over parts of Luzon and the Visayas yesterday.
The weather bureau said occasional moderate to heavy rains will prevail over Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Bicol Region, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Western Visayas.
It warned residents of possible flash floods or landslides due to monsoon rains.
Among the major thoroughfares rendered impassable to all types of vehicles, especially in the morning, were Pedro Gil-Taft and España-Lacson in Manila; the south bound lane of Quezon Avenue, from Maria Clara toward Araneta Avenue, Maria Clara-Araneta, and E. Rodriguez Boulevard in Quezon City.
Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Pureza Street, Ayala-San Marcelino, P. Burgos, Lagusnilad, Burgos-Victoria, UN-Taft, and Quirino-Taft were also impassable to light vehicles.
The Makati City government, through its Twitter account, reported three-foot deep flooding along Dela Rosa during the height of the downpour at 4:08 a.m., and was therefore not passable to traffic.
Floodwater reaching 12 inches high were also reported along P. Binay Street and Hen. V. Belarmino in Barangay Bangkal at 3:27 a.m., although these areas remained passable.
Early last month, floods brought by torrential southwest monsoon rains affected the entire National Capital Region (NCR) and other parts of Luzon such as Bataan, Pampanga, Zambales, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Tarlac.
So shocking was the habagat floods that it brought back to mind images of the destructive deluge caused by Typhoon "Ondoy" in 2009.
Rescue Teams Deployed
Despite his weaker assessment of the rains, Tolentino said the MMDA still deployed rescue teams and "libreng sakay" (free ride) vehicles to help out people in various parts of the metropolis.
Rescue teams were also deployed to Sto. Domingo, Barangay Damayang Lagi, Barangay Mariblo and a portion of Araneta Avenue in Quezon City where waist-deep floodwater has been reported.
In San Juan City, around 100 families have been evacuated to the San Juan Gym because of the floods even as the San Juan River reached its critical level. Rescue operations are also being carried out in Barangay Balong-Bato.
"We have opened six floodgates at the Manggahan Floodway," Tolentino said.
The MMDA chief also pointed to the unfinished drainage works of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as an exacerbating factor to the floods.
"We will be experiencing all of these until the (drainage works) are all finished," he said.
"Karen" is at 680 kilometers (km) east of Itbayat, Batanes, as of 5 p.m. yesterday. It has maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 220 kph.
"Karen" is forecast to move towards Okinawa, Japan at a speed of 19 kph and a north-northwest direction, and is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) by Saturday.
By Sunday morning, it will be 70 km south of Okinawa, Japan.
PAGASA reiterated its warning to fishing boats and other small sea crafts to prevent from sailing into the eastern coastline of the country. (With reports from Carlo S. Suerte Felipe, Rizal S. Obanil, and Ed Mahilum)