Deadly floods strike the Philippines
Deadly floods have hit the Philippines capital Manila. Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and over 50 people have died. These floods will hit the poorest the hardest; and future storms and weather conditions will only get worse as climate change increases. One of WDM’s allies, Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of Jubilee South: Asia Pacific Movement on Debt & Development (JSAPMDD) has been sending us updates from Manila:
MetroManila and many parts of Luzon are now in an emergency situation as we suffer the effects of continuous heavy rains in the last few days, with a turn for much worse in the last 24 hours. Many areas are flooded, some as high as fifteen feet. The metropolis has been immobilised, offices, businesses and schools closed. The water levels in the major dams and rivers in the MetroManila and adjacent areas are now almost the same level as Ondoy - the calamity in 2009 when MetroManila's roads became raging rivers and densely populated areas turned into instant lakes. Today and the next few days our people need urgent assistance: food, clothes, evacuation and shelter, health and medical care. We anticipate power outages and interruptions in internet, telephone and mobile services.
The heavy rains continue and the weather agency projects that there will be no slowdown in the next 24 hours. Floods are way over 15 feet in many places now. Dams are going to overflow and have to be opened. The volume of rainfall within the last 24 hours has now exceeded Ondoy levels for the same number of hours.
The rains stopped this morning and we actually saw some sunshine! But then in a short while the rains started again, as strong as before! And it went on the whole day...
It’s nearly 11:00pm now here and the rains only slowed down about an hour ago or so. We are hoping the lull will last at least a few hours - but we are bracing ourselves because the weather agency announced that a typhoon is coming! What we just had in the last few days was not a typhoon. Just rain - very heavy, continuous rain. A typhoon would include very strong winds. Let’s hope the weather agency is wrong!
More than half of the metropolis is still flooded, in varying levels. According to the news, about 30 per cent of the water levels is waist deep and higher. We have turned our offices (Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and JSAPMDD) into drop off centres for relief goods. FDC is organizing volunteer teams - some started today. We have many member organisations from urban poor and workers communities in MetroManila so we are working with them.
Yesterday we read about Todd Stern’s call to drop the goal of limiting the increase in average global temperature to 2°C - to allow for "flexibility" in the UN climate negotiations. He should explain to our people how much worse than these floods they need to prepare for in the future, so the US can have its "flexibility."
All organisations, movements and NGOs in the south especially – regardless of their focus, specialisation or particular mandates - should have programmes for disaster preparedness and response. This is just one of the things we need to do to deal with the impacts of climate change...
Sarah is the network development officer at WDM. She supports WDM's network of local groups and activists, helping to produce materials, run workshops and develop new groups.