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Flooded roads and some thoughts on flooding

September 2014
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I’ve always said that transport and traffic problems will always take a back seat to flooding. Traffic also takes a back seat to floods in this post. Issues like congestion and terrible public transport services are experienced by many everyday but basically do not stop people from their routines. Floods on the other hand are a major inconvenience that makes things like congestion or getting a ride during the rush hours much worse. Floods also have a way of making things stop as people cannot go to work and students cannot go to school. It seems that whenever there are floods, everything grinds to a halt and productivity takes a dive. Such losses, of course, are in addition to the cost of damages directly brought about by the floods.

The following photo was taken by a staff of our office who was going around near his home. Fortunately, their place was not flooded so that afforded him time to go around and take some photos of the swollen Marikina River along Marcos Highway in the Pasig-Marikina border.

Mario flood1Marcos Highway Bridge over a swollen Marikina River – not visible in the photo is the road leading to FVR Road and C-5, which is usually subject to flooding. The tall building in the background is SMDC’s Blue condominium along Katipunan Avenue. [Photo credit: Roy Velasco, NCTS, September 2014]

These extreme floods have been happening more frequently lately. I think these extreme rain events brought about by typhoons or monsoons are the norm now and we should be more prepared than ever in dealing with such heavy rainfall. Flooding can be alleviated if not eliminated and the experiences of some flood-prone LGUs can help us in determining suitable approaches to alleviate the problem and mitigate its impacts.

The philosophy applied by previous administrations of Marikina City  did not have the objective of eliminating flooding. That was too expensive for a growing city that needed to put resources to other aspects or areas of development. The main objective was to alleviate flooding; mainly to reduce the depth as well as the duration of flooding. That is, instead of having waste-deep waters, perhaps knee-deep would be more tolerable. And instead of having to deal with flooded homes or streets over a day or more, half a day would make life better for people affected. The key was to address issues that led to severe flooding. Such issues include poor drainage stemming from inadequate maintenance of facilities and the still tremendous amounts of garbage irresponsibly disposed off by people, especially those living near waterways.

Marikina, Antipolo and Cainta at least should consider building retention basins in order to mitigate serious flooding. A lot of waterways were lost as residential subdivisions were developed and developers responsible for these should bear part of the burden by doing their part (e.g., identifying and turning over or donating lands than can serve as sites for the basins) in helping alleviate flooding. One friend pointed out that the critical time for flooding would be when rains are heaviest (e.g., last Thursday to Friday for Mario or the 6 hours of extreme rains by Ondoy in 2009). Basins should be designed so they can accommodate waters from the rains during the critical period so that instead of neck-deep floods, perhaps there will only be knee-deep or waist-deep waters. Yes, there will still be floods but they will be more tolerable and perhaps faster to dissipate than when you don’t have the basins to mitigate such events. There will be significant costs for such facilities but then the costs surely don’t compare to the annual losses that can be attributed to flooding and relocating whole communities definitely is much more costly and is not an option for those in the Marikina Valley and other food prone areas. Floods have been issues for many LGUs during elections and whoever can come up with a good plan to alleviate flooding will surely win a lot of votes.

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