Cebu City hit by worst flood since Typhoon Odette
CEBU CITY — This city and many localities in Metro Cebu were hit by severe floods that reached up to four feet in some areas on Thursday night following hours of heavy rain.
The excessive rainfall and heaps of garbage that clog drainage systems contributed to the severe flooding that submerged many parts of this city on Thursday night, which, authorities said, was the worst flood here since Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) inundated and devastated Metro Cebu in December 2021.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) monitoring station on Mactan Island recorded 66.2 millimeters of rainfall in Cebu, which was caused by a low-pressure area formed inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility. Romeo Aguirre, Pagasa weather specialist, said the amount rainfall in Cebu on Thursday evening was “abnormal” as the average rainfall on the island for the whole month of August was usually around 157.9 millimeters.
More rains are expected during the weekend in Cebu, according to Aguirre.
Aside from Cebu City, flooding were also reported in the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Talisay, Toledo and Naga; and the municipalities of Consolacion, Liloan and Minglanilla.
Harold Alcontin, operations head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRRMO), said the amount of garbage that clogged the waterways was too much that rescuers could not even use their floating equipment.
“What I saw last night was that our drainage systems were overwhelmed by the amount of garbage. I think there is really a need to conduct an education campaign to inform people about the ill-effects of throwing our garbage anywhere,” he said.
Alcontin also saw the need to widen or improve the drainage canals as these could no longer hold the amount of water, especially during heavy rains.
He requested the city’s Department of Engineering and Public Works to make an inventory of the waterways and to enhance or upgrade them.
The Cebu City government mounted a search and rescue operation after debris of what appeared to be from houses were seen being swept away by rampaging waters in Kinalumsan River in Barangay Mambaling.
A video taken by Mambaling resident Bruce Contratista showed a man being carried by debris under the Kinalumsan bridge. The man whom residents identified as “Bobby” was seen waving for help to the crowd on top of the bridge. Bobby was eventually saved by rescuers.
The heavy rains with moderate winds started past 7 p.m. It stopped past 9 p.m. but it started to rain again at about 10 p.m. but it was not as strong as before.
The CCDRRMO listed about 93 individuals who were temporarily evacuated from their homes because of the rising waters in Barangay Tisa. There were also 11 families in Barangay Pardo who were brought to safer grounds.
Alcontin said at least 50 out of the 80 barangays in Cebu City were affected by the flash floods.No fatalities were reported as of 2 p.m. on Friday.
Lawyer Rose Liza Eisma Osorio, legal and policy director of the environmental group Oceana Philippines, said flooding in Cebu is now the new normal.
“The signs are clear. Climate change is here. The door is fast closing for us so we need to accelerate our efforts towards adaptation and mitigation measures,” she told the Inquirer.
“Local governments should prioritize these actions instead of pushing for coastal development projects that can worsen flooding, destroy mangroves that provide coastal protection and endanger the lives of local communities,” she added.
Lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines, earlier called on local governments in Cebu to start updating the land use plan to prevent flooding.
The land use plan is designed to guide the future actions of a community. It also presents a vision for the future, with long-range goals and objectives for all activities that affect the local government.
“If the government won’t heed the call of environmentalists in flood prevention, then the people should take up the cudgels,” she said.
“We keep saying that the disasters are wake-up calls for everybody, but we cannot just wait for our public officials to act on them. If they won’t act, we should take the initiative to prepare ourselves for disasters,” she added.
The massive flooding in Cebu’s highly urbanized areas, she said, should compel each one to reexamine their roles and stop their “ecologically destructive lifestyle.”
“It is not too late to take the effort to make it more in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature,” Ramos said. —REPORTS FROM NESTLE SEMILLA, DALE G. ISRAEL AND ADOR VINCENT MAYOL
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