Flooding and foot-dragging-A A +A
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
WHAT we get from watching footage of devastation on television is at best vicarious.
You watch with dread scenes in portions of Metro Manila showing brown water menacingly surround man-made structures, forcing people to move to higher floors or the rooftops--but being actually there is more dreadful.
It’s like wannabe revolutionaries thinking that a war situation can be approximated by watching “Saving Private Ryan.” Some young activists think that way and swagger around talking about the virtues of armed struggle—until they get transported to a guerilla front. Then they tearfully realize that, yes, a revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or doing embroidery…”
Our house is at the foot of a hill that stands close to another hill, forming a small valley nearby. One time, rain fell in torrents and the water that cascaded downhill brought with it the surface soil of a hillside clearing. Muddy water entered the back portion of a neighboring subdivision with a problematic drainage, partly filling with soil its road system. The homeowners group decided to block off the “waterway.”
That diverted the water flow away from the subdivision and into our area. When the rain fall in torrents, water gathered by the small valley would rush through our place’s road-right-of-way going to the still vacant lots near the barangay road. I would watch this spectacle from the second floor window of our house, and the worries always creep in.
We are in a suburban town in the south and yet I get the feeling that we are also vulnerable to flooding and other dangers brought about by prolonged rain. What happened to Metro Manila in the past few days with the water dumped there by the southwest monsoon (habagat) spawned by a tropical depression moving to China has increased the worries.
While the terrain in Metro Manila is different from that in Metro Cebu, the same chaotic metro setup prevails. Consider poor drainage system. The joke we throw around in our community reeks with irony. During heavy rains, our roads get filled with water and become rivers. But the real river, which is nearby, is often dry.
In our place, walled houses stand along riverbanks, blocking the flow of water into the natural waterway. The flooding, therefore, can’t be blamed on nature but on the failure to put order into the settling of the plains. This is compounded by the foot-dragging in the construction of a drainage system that would factor in the nearby river.
Our situation is a microcosm of the setup in the province’s main urban center of Cebu City and its neighboring areas. Many communities in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay lack a sane drainage system and waterways are blocked by illegal structures. And while government officials talk endlessly about putting in place a sane drainage system, nothing concrete has come out of these.
Some of us try to attribute to the Sto. Niño or to luck the point that Cebu has been spared of the kind of rainfall experienced by Metro Manila residents for a second time now (the first one was spawned by typhoon Ondoy). But that should not make local government officials complacent. Good governance means preparing well for any eventuality.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 09, 2012.