The text messages that warn of torrential rain and possible flooding have been ineffective for city residents who in the past days suffered hours of agony in moving on submerged roads.

Flood forecasting, if you base it on the United Nations Climate Technology Centre and Network, is primarily aimed at reducing the public’s exposure to coastal flooding. Not to flooding on the streets, but in areas bordering or close to the coastline. People living in coastal areas are prone to the sudden rush of water and need to be alerted in advance to take measures to protect life and property.

In a way, you can excuse those short message service (SMS) from the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) when it alerts us in Filipino or Tagalog about the amount of rainfall to be expected and the possibility of floods and landslides. The messages are not meant specifically for urban areas or for those living in cities or for commuters who get stranded in submerged streets.

Excused perhaps, but it does not take away or diminish the need for a system to alert city residents and commuters of the possibility of flooding on roads and the water rising to a person’s hip or chest level.

The UN Climate Technology Centre and Network ( said a flood warning service is “a particularly important technology in developing countries, where flooding results in massive loss of life and property.” The network is the implementation arm of the Technology Mechanism of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change and is hosted by the UN Environment Program.

It also said that among the questions the flood alert will have to answer are—How high will the flood reach and when? Where will the water go at that predicted height? Who will be affected by flooding? What information and advice do the people affected by flooding need to respond effectively?

These are the same questions that those in the urban areas are asking whenever it starts to rain. How long will this rain go on and will it cause flooding? Given the agony of stranded commuters in recent days, there is flooding almost after every rainfall. Where will the water go or what areas and streets will be flooded when the rains continue for the next 30 minutes?

If provided this information, people can avoid leaving their offices, schools, or homes until probably an hour or two after the downpour. Will I be affected by the flooding? It is likely that we would get caught in the streets or wherever we are located. What information will I need to respond effectively? Please tell me if I should move, stay put, and wait it out.

That is the kind of flood alert system that will work for Cebuanos.

Then, of course, people will have to take the alert seriously because protecting life and property eventually depends on what actions you take.