La Mesa Dam operators recommend preemptive evacuation of residents
(Updated 3:55 p.m.) A La Mesa Dam manager Sunday afternoon called for the immediate preemptive evacuation of residents near the Tullahan River as the dam has been near-overflowing since morning.
The dam operators placed the water level near the spilling level of 80.15 meters. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration had more precisely placed La Mesa's current water level at 79.59 meters.
In a phone interview with GMA News Online, La Mesa head-works manager Engineer Teddy Angeles said the water level had reached 79.59 meters as of 12 p.m., 56 centimeters below the overflow level.
He called for preemptive evacuation, "which means it is up to the discretion of the local governments to evacuate,” he explained.
Angeles said they are currently contacting barangays along the Tullahan River, which originates from the La Mesa Dam, in connection with the preemptive evacuation recommendation.
Excess water from the dam will raise the banks of the Tullahan River, potentially affecting Quezon City, Valenzuela, Malabon and Navotas Cities, according to Angeles.
Earlier this morning, the water reached the 79.51-meter level, from Saturday’s 79.42 meters, said PAGASA.
Last July 23, PAGASA had also placed the La Mesa Dam on red alert as the water level neared the spilling level at 79.52 meters.
"Sa ganoong water level naka-status sa red alert ang warning ng La Mesa operations," PAGASA hydrologist Gine Nievares had said last week on dzBB radio.
Nievares said that once the water level reaches 80.15 meters, the La Mesa Dam could overflow.
As of posting time, GMA News Online has been unable to contact the other LGUs for a comment. — DVM/BM, GMA News
In a separate phone interview with GMA News Online, Navotas City Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office officer Paul Felix said they have received the La Mesa Dam recommendation but they are still currently on standby.
"As of now [3:00 p.m.], normal pa ang situation pero naka-standby pa rin kami, hindi pa nga nakapag-release ng tubig [from the dam]" he said.
Felix said they are currently monitoring the high tide and rain fall in the area, but stressed that with their 26 pumping stations and flood gates, they expect flooding to be limited.
However, Felix said, "Nagtataka nga kami kung bakit kami nakasama sa listahan. 'Yung pag-release ng tubig mula sa dam, hindi mapupunta sa'min. Ang Malabon ang maapektuhan."
"Noong Ondoy, hanggang binti lang 'yung baha," he added.
On the other hand, Ariane del Rosario of Valenzuela City Rescue said they would leave it to the barangays to decide if an evacuation is necessary.
"Kami lang 'yung tutulong," said del Rosario.
Despite this, "Kapag nakikita namin na sobra na ang kalagayan, kami na mismo ang magpapa-evacuate," she said.
According to del Rosario, Barangay Marulas of Valenzuela City is the only barangay that may be affected by the flood.
"'Yung Marulas kasi 'yung pinakamalapit sa Tullahan River, 'yan lang talaga 'yung apektado," she said.
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