The Philippines is rushing to clear garbage from roads and drainage systems in the capital that has led to floods and traffic jams twice in less than a week since the beginning of the rainy season.
The Metro Manila Development Authority has asked the city’s public works department to speed up drainage repairs in 70 places across downtown Manila before another storm hits, Chairman Francis Tolentino told ABS-CBN News today.
Rains from Tropical Storm Emong and seasonal monsoons flooded streets and snarled traffic, stranding thousands of people for several hours yesterday evening. President Benigno Aquino called a meeting today to discuss flood-management efforts in the country, which is regularly battered by cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean.
“By the sheer design of democracy, we can’t blame just one person,” Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said at a briefing today when asked which agency shoulders responsibility for the problem. “In a way, we can blame the people because they shouldn’t be clogging roads with their trash.”
Storm Emong has accelerated as it moves north, with gusts of as much as 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour, according to an 11 a.m. weather bureau report. Estimated rainfall within its 400-kilometer area may reach 5 to 15 millimeters an hour, it said. The bureau advised fishermen not to go into the northern and eastern seaboards off Luzon island.
Offices and schools in Manila may have to let workers and students go home early this week to ease traffic, Tolentino said. Drainage repairs in Manila, Quezon City, and other areas will lead to some overflowing, he said.
Some parts of the capital were covered in knee-deep water on June 13, according to the nation’s disaster coordinating agency. The day before, a landslide in Davao del Norte killed a 10-year-old child.
At least 15 people were killed as floodwaters swept across the main Philippine island of Luzon last August, paralyzing Manila and forcing 130,000 to flee their homes. The deluge crippled transport links in Manila, forcing the closing of schools, offices and financial markets. December’s Storm Bopha killed at least 327 people and left 380 missing.