City of clogged waterways-A A +A
Saturday, January 29, 2011
THIS is not Cebu weather. This was the common remark when people talked about the rains, winds and floods here of the past weeks.
Cebu is known to tourists and visitors for having more sunny than rainy days (compared to Metro Manila) and for beach resorts, but the weather the past weeks and the flooding in many areas may just change their idea of what Cebu means. Has Cebu become a city or a metropolis of clogged waterways?
It’s not the drop in temperature that Cebu residents mind. It’s the water that covered the roads, entered their homes and damaged their furniture and other belongings that they minded. And the floods that hit parts of Metro Cebu the past week are not to be the last.
With news images of Cebuanos wading in floodwaters, using life vests and hanging on to floating wooden structures to move around, many Cebu residents received calls from worried relatives in Manila or abroad who thought the metropolis was under water.
Expect a wet summer and an early rainy season, said Cebu weather bureau chief Oscar Tabada.
Tabada said the amount of rainfall in Cebu reached three times the normal level in this month alone. With this rainfall, Cebu will see more floods and landslides in coming days, he added.
What happened last Tuesday, the first time Cebu saw Ondoy-like floods, was a “cloudburst” or a sudden and heavy downpour over a small area. Tabada said dark clouds over the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Cebu poured rain in those areas in less than two hours.
The actions of local government units so far have been knee-jerk. Move people from low-lying and flood-prone areas. Get calamity funds to feed them. Ban the use of plastics. Create committees to look into what else the government can do.
If local government officials are still talking about what to do with the clogged waterways and illegal settlers, then Metro Cebu has a problem and it’s the kind that wouldn’t go away anytime soon.
The time to dredge rivers, clear drainage systems and inform people to throw their garbage properly and responsibly already passed. The time to sit down and think about a comprehensive development plan to govern structures and residential areas is over. All these moves should have been undertaken early on, before the rains came, and as lessons from the calamity suffered by Metro Manila and Northern Luzon when supertyphoon Ondoy struck in 2009.
The effects of Ondoy should have prodded Metro Cebu officials to look inward and see what actions to take to prevent such a calamity from happening here.
There were more than enough opportunities for Metro Cebu or any other major city in the country to learn from the experiences of Metro Manila.
This is the time to act. There is no more luxury for local government units to create councils or committees, sit down, take some snacks and talk about what to do next. There is no more time for talk.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 30, 2011.