The flood waters in Manila are slowly subsiding. Family members who traveled to Manila yesterday for business reported that most of the roads were clear, but that the garbage and mud from the floods were all over the place. Some of the roads remained blocked, including major highway “underpasses” that were now lakes of water.

Several large neighborhoods remain flooded, I understand, but now the hard part begins: recovery and repair.

A quarter million people are reported to be living in schools, churches and other public shelters, and probably many times that number have found shelter with friends and relatives. Electricity remains off in some areas, due to the danger of live wire, and some water pumps were destroyed by flood waters, so some areas lack basic safe water supplies.

The problem now is food, water, and clothing. After two days, the government has put out a call for international aid, which will help.

There are a lot of stories of heroic rescues: the judge who used his Jet Ski and rubber boats, and with his helpers saved 100 people; the swimmer who rescued 30 people but drowned tying to save a baby, and others who drowned trying to save friends and relatives, or who were swept away when their rescue vehicles were inundated.

Like the disaster with Katrina, one of the major problems is getting aid to people in to the devastated areas, because roads are flooded or blocked with debris and wrecked vehicles, and some bridges destroyed or unsafe.

The local Coast Guard had boats and their “dragonboat” team (strong rowers who could row against the current) but found the roads blocked and flooded. So they took the train:

“This was the first time that we had to load rubber boats on the Light Rail Transit trains in order to get to Marikina,” he said. The rescue team could not travel on the ground because many vehicles and other obstructions littered the roads.

There has been complaints about slow government response, but actually the response is more due to the fact that most of the military who respond to emergencies are located in the provinces; many are now being diverted to help.

The US military is sending some of their people up to help, and the yearly Balikatan exercises which are scheduled in two weeks may be diverted to help in the cleanup.

During the Balikatan exercises, the US/Philippine forces train together, and the Philippine Special forces teach jungle survival techniques to the US military. But the exercises always include humanitarian aid to locals as a gesture of good will.

The dual training program has been under attack lately from the left,  partly because the left routinely attacks the US out of nationalistic pride, but also because a large amount of the funding “disappeared”.So changing the training to help with the Manila clean up could produce good publicity and of course the help will be greatly appreciated too.

Everyone is sending help: local businesses, China, Japan, the UN, The UK, the churches, the NGO’s, the Muslim charities, the Red Cross etc.etc. And the help is needed. Most of the reports in the news are about Manila, but rural Luzon and the Visayas also have reports of devestated towns and villages. And now we hear one, maybe two more storms are on their way…

Even the NPA (the local communist insurgents who are active in rural Luzon) are helping locals people, and have agreed to a ceasefire so the military can pull out without worrying about civilian attacks.

All eyes are turned on Manila, but here in the provinces, the problem is that the hurricane came at harvest/second season planting time, and much of the best rice, corn, and vegetable growing land in Luzon was affected. GMA news reports  P820 million pesos of food lost ($16 million dollars), which will devastate small farmers in the region and could raise food prices.

The UN will, of course, blame global warming, and we expect to hear the fatalities be blamed on lack of population control. Both of these complaints will be popular with the elites in Manila, who go along with the global agenda of too many poor people polluting the globe.

But in this, I have to agree with the local communist party, who told GMA news:

It added the widespread destruction caused by the heaviest rainfall in four decades that hit Metro Manila and nearby provinces highlights the poor infrastructure of the national capital and surrounding areas, particularly the city’s flood control and drainage systems.

I couldn’t find recent information when I googled about the sewers in Manila but since some of those flooded out include news people, presumably there will be an expose on this in the near future.

In the meanwhile, next year is election year, and our lovely president Gloria Arroyo has moved to a smaller house so that the presidential palace could be used to house refugees.

No,, she can’t run for president, but she can run as Senator from Pampanga, and if they get ChaCha, (charter change) she just could become her party leader and end up running the country again.

The floods will affect other candidates in their campaign.

Erap was  on TV last night, showing him giving out supplies in Pasig but has declined further photo ops.But then, Erap (ex President Joseph Estrada) is one of the little people, and would have helped anyway, which is why he is so loved.

His main rival for the people’s vote, Noynoy (Senator Aquino) said he will use some of his campaign funds to help those affected.

But the political loser in all of this will probably be the Defense secretary Teodoro, who is also a possible candidate. He  is supposed to be in charge of coordinating rescue and relief. There are many complaints about the slowness of government relief reaching people, and he will bear the blame.

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Manuel QuezonIII’s blog has a list of donations and places where to send money.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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