Hurricane Isaac is approaching the Gulf shores of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama as I write. Isaac reminds me of the storm and monsoon rains which hit Manila while I was there a couple weeks ago.
Manila’s storms turned the entire region into a huge flood plane. Homes, businesses, schools, and government offices were destroyed along with a great deal of the region’s infrastructure. In my years of living in Manila, I never witnessed anything comparable to the way the forces of nature bore down this time.
Agence France Presse described Manila as “half under water” and posted short videos to give some sense of how the flooding impacted the city. Television stations in Manila provided coverage during the worst days of flooding while at the same time appealing for aid of every kind—Red Cross, church, government, and private organizations. The government closed all offices and schools at all levels, so I could not visit my former colleagues at De La Salle University.
Videos posted on the CNN website show some of the destruction caused by the floods. Warning: CNN first plays a short advertising video when you click on the play button. Most of these videos were from after the rains began to slow down on August 8.
London’s Guardian assembled a photo gallery of the aftermath of the floods which it posted on August 20. All of these images reveal the huge human toll that such storms take in the lives of people affected by the flooding. The cleanup will take many weeks.
Areas in Manila impacted by the floods suffered greatly simply because of the lack of infrastructure and the huge number of squatters living near rivers and waterways flowing into Manila bay. Waterborne diseases like cholera and dysentery were threats. But the number of people infected with dengue fever carried by mosquitoes overwhelmed the capacity of hospitals.
Most of the deaths reported, close to 100, were due to drowning according to the local media. August 6 and 7 were the days marked by the greatest flooding. Rainfall close to 20 inches of rain per day fell on both of those days. The videos give some idea of the dimension of the flooding in and around Manila.
I hope the threat to the Gulf states will not approach the disastrous floods in Manila.
Photo Credit: PhotoXpress Kheng Guan Toh