Notes on 8/7 floods


The severe floods caused by torrential monsoon rains that inundated many parts of Metro Manila and Luzon on August 7, 2012 were, sad to say, bound to happen.  We have adapted a lifestyle which is incompatible with nature and earth’s ecology.  We built human settlements and industries along the natural paths and catch basins of flood water.  Our industrial refuse and household trash degrade the environment and clog rivers and waterways.

Nature is of course beyond our control.  But we have control over where and how we live.  If we persist in living in disaster-prone areas and keep on throwing trash anywhere, then we can expect that the consequences of our recalcitrance will repeatedly haunt us.

There is nothing we can do to prevent the periodic flooding of river banks, lake and sea shores, and low-lying areas with elevation below sea level.  We have modified the natural flow of flood water by settling in these areas.  Elementary physics tells us that water will always seek its own level, hence the lands along the natural paths and catch basins of flood water are unsuitable and unsafe for human habitation.

Not even the sophisticated flood control levees of New Orleans, USA, could save that city from inundation by hurricane Katrina almost 7 years ago.  Neither did extensive drainage system prevent the flooding of New Jersey, USA, by hurricane Irene last year.

But while we cannot totally prevent the occurrence of periodic flooding, it is possible for us to reduce the risk of severe floods and mitigate damage to lives and properties.  This would require years of undertaking a “comprehensive and strategic” flood control program involving:

•  in-city relocation of informal settlers along the banks of rivers and waterways

•  rehabilitation and improvement of existing drainage system;

•  construction of dikes/canals for impounding flood water;

•  dredging of rivers, waterways and inland water bodies that act as catch basins of flood water (Laguna lake in the case of Metro Manila); and

•  construction of public parks and promenades in areas cleared of illegal structures.

Consequently, the proposed program will also provide us with excellent opportunities for creating tens of thousands of new jobs and urban renewal, in addition to enhancing construction and manufacturing activities that will have repercussive (or multiplier) effects throughout the economy — a boom in construction industry benefits 70 or so other industries as well, from cement to steel to heavy equipment to housing materials, etc.

That’s the job for the government; our job is not to contribute to flooding with improper disposal of industrial refuse and household trash.

Author:  Rene “RC” Catacutan
Published 11 August 2012

Related photos

Roxas Boulevard, Manila (photo credit:

University of Santo Tomas Hospital, Manila (photo credit: Azrael’s Merryland)

E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City (photo credit: Trending News.PH)

Flooded road in Marikina City (photo credit:

Floodway Bridge, Ortigas Avenue Extension, Pasig City (photo credit:

 Flooded village in Marikina City (photo credit:

Recto underpass in Manila (photo credit: Azrael’s Merryland)

A Philippine Coast Guard personnel rescuing a flood victim (photo credit:

Aerial photo of a flooded area in the province of Bulacan (photo credit: Azrael’s Merryland)

Informal settlers (photo credit:

New Orleans under water in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in August 2005 (photo credit:





New Jersey flood caused by hurricane Irene in August 2011 (photo credit: Reuters)