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Flood Precautions: A Necessity during Wet Season in Metro Manila

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Over the past year, Philippine government officials have repeatedly stressed that local barangays (villages) are now the designated first responders to natural disasters, including flooding. Under this initiative, many responsibilities for managing natural disasters have devolved to local barangay representatives. These responsibilities mainly relate to implementing communications and response strategies outlined by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). The strategies are designed to increase the accountability of barangay representatives, and increase communication between barangay representatives and emergency responders. In an informal statement, an NDRRMC representative summed up the message to barangay authorities rather flippantly: “hey – you do your thing.”

While it is certainly important to draft barangay representatives into the front lines of natural disaster management, it remains unclear how far the national government has gone in providing local authorities the training and implementing measures needed to manage natural disasters. A lack of focus and limited capacity have already come to characterize the government’s response to flooding in many parts of the country, most notably in Metro Manila. Security consultants in the Philippines routinely advise organizations to be prepared to manage a major natural disaster for up to 72 hours without any tangible government response or assistance. Given these concerns, private individuals and businesses should adopt commonsense precautions for the safety risks associated with the wet season.

 

Flood-Prone Areas of Metro Manila

Metro Manila experiences 20 typhoons on average each year, mostly between June and October. Flooding mostly occurs during this time; however, even light to moderate rainfall can result in heavy flooding across Metro Manila.

The most flood-prone areas of Metro Manila include the cities of Caloocan, Navotas, Malabon, Valenzuela, Manila, Marikina, and Pasig (see map below). Parts of Quezon, Pasay, San Juan, Makati cities also experience flooding during periods of heavy rain. These areas traditionally experience the highest flood-waters in the metropolitan area as well as the majority of flood-related casualties and material damage. Flooding in these areas is most common near to rivers, creeks, and dams.

 

psa

 

Despite efforts by the national government to improve communications during flood situations, the media continues to assume a leading role in disseminating information on areas affected by flooding. The media has created several on-line platforms to share information on flooding, particularly with respect to flooded and impassable roadways, individuals who are missing or in need of rescue, as well as the effect of flooding on airports and other major transport hubs. Monitoring the latest information from media and government sources remain an important component of managing flood risks; however, consulting local sources – including PSA – remains a necessity in the country due to poor journalism standards and the often incomplete nature of information provided by the government.

 

rainfall-psa

 

Flood Precautions a Necessity

Heavy rain and flooding cause severe traffic jams on highways and roads across Metro Manila. Traffic jams and road closures can leave motorists and commuters stranded; often delaying the delivery of goods and services. Heavy rain and flooding can also disrupt businesses due to employee absenteeism and infrastructure failure. Severe weather systems such as typhoons have caused flooding that has disrupted the provision of basic services in parts of Metro Manila for several days. During periods of severe weather, government offices, schools, and businesses often suspend operations. Businesses should have a crisis management framework in place to provide emergency response as well ensure business continuity.

 

traffic-psa

 

In light of these risks, individuals should prepare an emergency kit containing first aid materials, candles or a flash-light,  a battery-powered radio, batteries, and any necessary prescription medicines. Other commonsense precautions include storing drinking water and food provisions, as well as keeping mobile phones charged and emergency contact numbers ready. In addition, it is advisable to maintain at least a half tank of fuel in vehicles at all times. Businesses should review their crisis management plans to ensure the continuity of essential services. It should be noted that the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) has mandated in the past special pay rules for businesses that remain open in areas affected by heavy rains and flooding. In August 2012, the DOLE ordered businesses that remained open during Typhoon Habagat to pay workers an additional 30 percent of their normal hourly rate.

Historically, the emergency response of the government has been plagued by coordination problems and in some cases confusing public announcements and guidance. Add to this the fact that flooding risks in Metro Manila are largely caused by poor urban planning, particularly with respect to substandard road and drainage infrastructure, as well as solid waste build-up in streams and rivers. Every year, these factors combine to increase the risks related to flooding. Given the government’s historical inability to mitigate the risks associated with flooding in Metro Manila, individuals and businesses should be prepared to take commonsense safety precautions ahead of the wet season.

 

 

Author: Pacific Strategies & Assessments who is an authority on this subject. 

 

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  1. ANGELINA NUNAG TIOTANGCO says:

    Congratulations for posting this blog. I teach Environmental Science and I focus on behavioral changes for college students to create plan of actions to protect the environment. Manila is the most challenging. I can use this to develop critical thinking and awareness for students to become socially and environmentally responsible. Thank you!

    • Marcy Villegas says:

      Thank you, Angelina for your nice comment and for visiting Expatch. Environmental Science sounds interesting. Thank you for sharing your views.

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