Less than three days after monsoon floods devastated Metro Manila, another approaching weather disturbance threatens to grow into a storm.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday an active low- pressure area (ALPA) was gaining strength as it churned in the Pacific Ocean and is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility either last night or this morning.
The ALPA was 1,280 kilometers east of Central Luzon Saturday morning, according to PAGASA forecaster Jori Loiz, and was “still too far to affect any part of the country within 24 hours.”
But it could strengthen the southwest monsoon or hanging habagat once it moves closer and bring rains to the western sections of Luzon and Visayas, Loiz said.
Rains are also likely in northeastern Mindanao and Eastern Visayas by Monday, he said.
If the ALPA becomes a tropical depression, its local name will be “Helen.”
Last week, the southwest monsoon, sucked in by Storm Gener that lingered for several days north of the country, produced rains that flooded more than half of Metro Manila and many Luzon provinces.
The relentless downpour forced the evacuation of thousands of residents, closed down schools and offices and submerged Metro Manila’s main roads.
It also claimed at least 66 lives, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s (NDRRMC) report yesterday.
PAGASA said the monsoon had weakened but will continue to bring scattered showers and thunderstorms to the Ilocos provinces, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Pampanga, Bataan, Tarlac and Bulacan.
The NDRRMC also said the monsoon floods affected 598,622 families or 2,684,843 people in 2,035 barangays in 156 towns and 34 cities in Metro Manila, Ilocos region, Central Luzon and Western Visayas.
About 95,000 families took shelter in 937 evacuation centers.
Yesterday, new floodings were reported in parts of Rizal and Laguna.
The NDRRMC identified the latest fatalities as Liza Mae Ravadillo, 10; Segunda Amantilo, 17; Erickson Dreva, and Archie Ybanez - all from Malabon; Jaime Lopez, 42, and Dan David Mangarin, 12, both from Navotas City; and Gerry Bugagon, 21, and Jason Pendido, 16, both from Pangasinan.
The floods also destroyed 2,935 houses.
Flood damage is expected to exceed P1 billion.
Yesterday, authorities reported that floods in most parts of Metro Manila had receded, particularly in Mandaluyong, Paranaque, Caloocan, Quezon City, Pasay, Las Pinas, and San Juan, and in nearby San Jose del Monte in Bulacan and Sta. Maria in Laguna.
But new flooding was reported in Antipolo City, Binangonan, Jalajala, Baras, San Mateo, Tanay and Taytay in Rizal; and in Kalayaan and Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino said the rescuers who risked their lives saving flood victims should receive an official commendation from local governments.
“There is nothing else that we can give in return for the efforts they (rescuers) displayed, especially during Tuesday and Wednesday evening,” Tolentino said.
Tomorrow, the MMDA will recognize its own workers, particularly the contractual employees who volunteered to help during the calamity.
As the weather cleared on Friday, the MMDA deployed 500 workers to remove mud and garbage in flood-hit areas in the metropolis.
“We have to start our cleanup this early and prevent further clogging of our drainages and waterways,” Tolentino said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development appealed for donations of drinking water for the flood evacuees.
President Benigno S. Aquino III, who has been visiting evacuation centers in affected areas, went to Malolos City yesterday to check on 400 families sheltering at the Malolos Central School.
Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and other provincial officials briefed the President on the flood situation in Bulacan, particularly the back-floods surging in the towns of Calumpit and Hagonoy and the status of the Angat, Ipo and Bustos dams.
The presidential entourage then proceeded to the neighboring town of Paombong, which was also heavily flooded.
The Department of Labor and Employment yesterday ordered the release of all available funds for emergency employment in its regional offices with operational jurisdiction over nine provinces devastated by the floods brought by the southwest monsoon (Habagat) namely in Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Bulacan in Region 3; Pangasinan in Region 1; and Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal in Region 4-A.
To provide the flood-affected workers in Metro Manila temporary jobs, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz ordered the release of P8.8 million from the department’s emergency employment funds. (Additional report from Ellson Quismorio, Ellalyn B. De Vera, Freddie C. Velez, Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Ed Mahilum)
By ELLALYN B. DE VERA and ELENA L. ABEN