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Philippines: Worst Flash Flood Hit “Typhoon-Free” City

Categories: East Asia, Philippines, Disaster, Environment

Many Filipinos were taken by surprise by the heavy floods that hit the southern Philippine city of Davao recently. The Philippines is notorious for flash flood [1] disasters as several typhoons [2] naturally pass by the country from the Pacific Ocean. But Davao city [3] is supposedly found in a typhoon-free zone.

As of the evening of Wednesday 29 May, 2011, the death toll [4] reached 25 while 15 others remained missing. Meanwhile, hundreds of families were displaced by the worst flooding that hit Davao in history.

The local weather bureau [5] has blamed an intertropical convergence zone for the heavy rains in the city that triggered the flash floods.

Ordinary Filipinos have been using various social media to share their very own flood experience stories and remarks on the tragedy. Here are some twitter reactions to the flooding:

@kangirlsonza: [6] in the words of my aunt – “grabe talaga bilis.parang tsunami pagdating ng tubig. wala kaming nasave.” – im so heartbroken #Davao flooding

@kangirlsonza: [6] in the words of my aunt – “The speed was startling. The water took us like a tsunami. We cannot save anything.” – im so heartbroken #Davao flooding

@blogie: [7] People stranded everywhere in the city. What is the Davao City LGU doing? This flooding problem is gonna get much worse in the coming months

@08chantal: [8]Isolated thunderstorm that caused heavy downpour, flash-flood in Davao..the another!!! Come'on really PH in need of flood control projects.

@Bakla: [9]Hoping and praying that all my family and friends in Davao are safe. Also praying for the families of those affected by the flooding.

@carlomallo: [10] OMG! I just found out that huge sections of Davao experienced severe flooding last night due to a 3 hour downpour! A child even drowned.

@RainTravels: [11]OMG, what led to the flash flood in #Davao? Davao City used to be spared from #storms and flooding. #letsprayfordavao

@bambiarias: [12] Typhoon-free ang Davao pero biglang nagflash flood. *sigh* mukhang galit na si mother nature sa atin. #prayfordavao

@bambiarias: [12] Davao is Typhoon-free but there was the flashflood all of a sudden. *sigh* looks like mother nature is angry with us. #prayfordavao

@iampaoloovejera: [13] Davao is among my favorite local tourist destination… Watching the city inundated by flood waters makes me sigh out of sadness…

Davao City flooding

Davao City flooding

The floods had many bloggers, like the Lady in Purple, taken by surprise [14] too:

I was sleeping soundlessly without knowing that some Dabawenyos were struggling for their survival. I normally hear news like this in Manila so it surprises me. We don't worry every time it rains but I guess now is the time to be vigilant.

Noeh’s Ark shares how their car almost drowned [15] in the flash floods:

Then as we reached Tahimik Avenue (also in Bangkal), the water was very forceful. Strong current. But at that time (around 12:30am) was still shallow. Then as we went back, as all cars did near the Bangkal Bridge (Even big trucks). It took us almost 20-30mins to go back to areas not affected. That's the time we saw lots of debris. Even a pedicab was taken away from the strong current. Waters reaching almost waist. (This was the time i took the photo) Thats also the time when waters went inside our car.

Davao Travel asks if the city is prepared for another flooding [16]:

I have never imagined seeing Davao this helpless. Helpless not becuase the government is not doing anything but because the people are so confident that nothing's gonna happen like the flooding last night in some areas of bangkal, matina pangi and talomo.

Davao is known being a typhoon-free city but it does mean it is also a flood-free city. Think again for a city declared as typhoon-free for the last century, hitten by a flash flood in a 3-5 hours rainfall.

The Caperture blogs [17]about what he saw the night the flash floods hit the city:

The water had entered homes and businesses. Establishments that were open at night just had to stop operations as the staff and people stood on top of tables and chairs. Many motorcycles seem to have drowned as they were being pushed by their riders.

Albertology calls on city officials to take decisive steps to address the flooding [18] problem:

Enough of the alibis. Davao City had already heard so much about climate change, increased volume of rainfall and lack of funds. We cannot continue discussing the causes of the flood and then watch how people are being eaten alive by the floodwaters. This is not to mention the trauma that last night’s flood has brought to many Dabawenyos.

The Davao city mayor has been using her Facebook page [19]to post updates on the relief and rescue operations.

Caha de Opinion also shares his story [20] and accompanies this with a video footage [21] of the flood:

After the rain has stopped I wanted to go out to buy me some snack! But to my surprise, I saw the flood already at the lower ramp outside of our apartment. I had never seen flooding of that magnitude in my whole 6 years of living in this place.

Some of the photos of the devastation wrought by the disaster are found online in GensanBoy’s Blog [22] and The Mindanao Examiner [23].