23,000 residents evacuated as Marikina River continues to swell
Alert level 4 up in Marikina as river swells. A swelling Marikina River is seen in this photo taken Tuesday from a condominium in Eastwood, Quezon City. The NDRRMC has deployed rescuers in many flooded areas of the NCR to evacuate stranded people. Zhaira Jean Lopez via YouScoop
Thousands of residents have been moved out of their houses and into evacuations centers in Marikina as torrential rains continued to pound the city and caused the Marikina River to swell to record levels.
According to data from Marikina's "Rescue 161," water level at the river was last recorded at its peak of 20.6 meters at 2 p.m., way past the critical level of 16 meters. Earlier in the day, local officials sounded the fifth alarm — the highest — as soon as the water level breached the 19-meter mark.
As of 1:30 p.m., a total of 4,271 families or 23,331 people have already been evacuated to 23 evacuation centers throughout the city.
But Robert Luis of Marikina Rescue 161 told GMA News Online that they are expecting water level at the river to go down soon due to the decrease in the amount of rainfall that was dumped in the mountains of Rizal, where water flowing to the Marikina River comes from.
"Mababa na po ang rainfall sa taas. Kapag mababa na ang rainfall doon, ang tendency niyan ay pababa na rin dito," Luis said.
Luis said data reaching them indicated that rainfall at Mount Oro in Montalban in Rizal was last recorded at just 1 millimeter, while rainfall flowing towards the Bosoboso River, also in Rizal, measured 2 millimeters.
From the mountains of Rizal and into the Marikina River, the rainwater flows down further to the Manggahan Floodway and out to the Lagunda de Bay.
Luis said the eight floodgates opened at the Manggahan Fllodway were also helping in easing the volume of water rushing through the Marikina River.
Earlier, Marikina Rep. Romero "Miro" Quimbo advised residents living in low-lying areas of the city and near the river to move their vehicles to safer grounds, adding that those far away from Marikina River may not be spared from flooding.
"Please know that while you are living far from the river, all of our surface rainwater cannot leave our streets and drainages since the only outlet is also the over-swelled Marikina River," Quimbo said.
He appealed to residents not to park their vehicles in a way they would block the streets. "We need the streets to be passable for rescue trucks," Quimbo said.
Throughout the day, rains have been continuously pouring in Marikina except for a brief lull shortly before noon. The Marikina Bridge continued to be passable to vehicles even as curious but worried residents flocked to the side of the bridge to witness the rising water level down below.
Local authorities said that about 70 percent of the city's 16 barangays are currently affected by flooding.
Marikina City authorities observe the following rules in sounding out alarms:
- Alarm Level 1: Water level at 15 meters (Warning)
- Alarm Level 2: Water level at 16 (Prepare to leave)
- Alarm Level 3: Water level at 17 meters (Voluntary Evacuation).
- Alarm Level 4: Water level at 18 meters (Forced Evacuation)
- Alarm Level 5: Water level 19 meters and beyond.
As this developed, Marikina Vice Mayor Jose Fabian Cadiz said the local government has already ordered the suspension of classes in all levels in the city on Wednesday.
At almost 20 meters at the Sto. Niño portion, the current level of the Marikina River is just three meters shy of that during the rampage of Ondoy in September 2009, when the level reached a record 23 meters above sea level.
Of 500 people killed by Ondoy, 68 came from Marikina.
That weather disturbance in 2009 poured a record amount of rainfall over Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon, affecting 4.8 million people and leaving P11 billion worth of crops and infrastructure damaged in its wake. — RSJ, GMA News