LOS Amigos, Tugbok, Wangan. These barangays lie in elevated areas in the south of Davao City. We don’t think these places, surrounded by trees and farms, would ever get flooded. Until Wednesday happened.
A heavy downpour that Wednesday afternoon caused the Talomo River to swell. An hour later, flood waters raged through school buildings, then engulfed subdivisions and houses in Tugbok and Calinan and all the way to Barangay Talomo near the city’s coastal area.
In the aftermath, seven barangays, 3,559 families or close to 17,000 people were affected by the flood that reached neck-deep in the most affected areas.
We saw the rage of Wednesday’s flood on videos and photos uploaded on Facebook where people wade through waist-deep flood, and see the damage the flood wrought on houses and schools covered in mud while vehicles and even trucks get tossed like toy cars, and trash floated along the Ulas Bridge.
We always worry about heavy rains and flood that have inconvenienced us, especially students and workers who get stranded from commute when rains fall at night and flood some downtown areas. But Wednesday’s flood really makes us pause and wonder what’s happening?
We talk about climate change and the impact on our weather. In the past few weeks, we have seen news from all over the world such as the burning of the Amazon rainforests, the melting of ice glaciers in Greenland, and polar bears and deer dying from hunger because of this effect.
Our city has also contributed to global warming. We have seen the rapid rise of infrastructure from roads, buildings and subdivisions replacing farms, forests and hills. Social and natural scientists note the cost of losing forests and soil, which could have provided much shelter and absorption of carbon dioxide and rainfall.
But we have more asphalt than green spaces. Now when rains fall, rainwater has nowhere to go but into our roads and straight to our homes.
This is something that local officials should have looked into in the first place and prevent disasters of such extent. But it seems there is no stopping this pace, as the Build-Build-Build program will develop a coastal road and even a railway in this region.
But this flood is a reminder that we need to stop on this track of neoliberal development. Real development should consider the balance of protecting and sustaining our natural resources and most importantly the human resources and welfare.