As a resident of Quezon City in Metro Manila, I grew up with typhoons and floods during the monsoon season that normally lasts from June to September. People in cities have learned to live with floods, and perhaps, not learned from the experience enough to change mindsets, lifestyles. Our drains continue to be clogged, motorists get stranded on the road, families still live in danger zones so much so that entire communities get evacuated, lives and livelihoods are lost, year in, year out.
I thought that maybe when tropical storm ‘Ondoy’ (International Name: Ketsana) swept through the Southeast Asian region in 2009 and made landfall on the island of Luzon where Metro Manila is located, everyone would finally get a grip on reality. That actions need to be taken by everyone and not just put the blame on the usual suspects.
The 9-hour deluge caught everyone off guard. A mother recounted to me how she painfully let boxes of memories - baby pictures - float away, amidst fast-rising flood waters. Social media and the television were awash with this image of a family holding on to each other and to dear life as they were swept under a bridge on the swollen Marikina river. Families all over the metropolis waited atop rooftops for days to be rescued, and for food drops from choppers flying overhead. Post-Ondoy, communities which lost their homes and livelihood have had to adjust and adapt in order to survive.
Beginning last week, the onset of the rainy season caused flash floods that again submerged many parts of Metro Manila. Many fear that if monsoon rains could already trigger flooding in a matter of minutes, what more with a typhoon? Do you know how many cyclones hit the country every year? Experts say that it’s between 7 to 8, but that they expect to see more violent storms come our way with a warming world. Why is Mindanao in southern Philippines, which didn’t see much weather disturbances in the past, now on the regular path of storms?
Do you know that climate change is more than about the changes in our environment? That it also affects how people earn a living and our nation’s economy?
A month’s worth of rainfall inundated most parts of Metro Manila
in just 9 hours, with flood waters reaching up to 20 feet in rural
areas in September, 2009 after typhoon Ondoy surged through
the island of Luzon.
A warming world is upon us. What can we, as ordinary citizens do to adapt to lessen its negative impacts? These are simple, but important questions to ask. If you have any more, post them here or join the conversation on Twitter by sending your feedback to @worldbankasia or to @CCCommissionPh with hashtag #askCCC. Climate Change Commission Secretary Lucille L. Sering will answer five of your most pressing questions in a short video called 5 Questions in 5 Minutes to be posted on www.worldbank.org/ph in a few days Ask now!