Why Roxas Blvd. got flooded despite new sea wall

By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2012 03:45 PM | Updated as of Aug 03 2012 06:48 AM

MANILA - A strong storm surge creating waves as high as the coconut trees hit Roxas Blvd. Wednesday morning.

The surge started around 4. a.m. causing massive floods on both lanes of Roxas Blvd. from Quirino Avenue to Kalaw Avenue. Both lanes were impassable to light vehicles, creating traffic jams in the alternate routes such as Taft Avenue, Ermita, UN Avenue, Pedro Gil, Mabini, Burgos, and Quirino.

The floodwaters reached as high as three feet as huge waves slammed the newly created sea wall along the baywalk area of the popular boulevard in the city of Manila.

Tons of garbage floating along Manila Bay were also dumped by the storm surge along Roxas Blvd. Huge trucks and a number of Department of Public Works and Highways and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority personnel conducted clearing operations to avoid the garbage being swept further inside the drainage.

The perimeter of the US Embassy was also hit by almost knee-high floods, prompting management to evacuate their employees as well as those applying for US visas.

Security personnel were literally carrying the employees, both Filipinos and Americans, on their backs wading through the floods.

Roque Casagin came all the way from Cebu this morning for a one-day appointment for his visa but was cancelled, and he had no other choice but to go back tonight to Cebu.

"Hindi na kami pinapasok kasi wala daw consul na dumadating kanina," he said. 

Joseph Opinon, also a US visa applicant from Biñan Laguna, was already inside the embassy when his appointment was cancelled. Joseph walked barefoot with his coat and tie while they were evacuated from the embassy.

"Nasa loob na kami 6:45 [a.m.] pa lang, they cancelled bumabaha na daw sa labas so we have to reschedule daw," he said.

DPWH mulls options

A portion of the sea wall at the back of the Quirino Grandstand damaged by Typhoon Pedring was never repaired by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and now caused more water to surge from Manila Bay to Roxas Blvd. That portion of the sea wall was further damaged more this morning due to the strong storm surge.

According to DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, one of their options now is to extend the exiting breakwater located in the middle of Manila Bay to diffuse the strong current of sea water coming from the West Philippine Sea. This may decrease the strength and height of the storm surge that has battered the sea wall of the baywalk area several times.

But until this is done, he said, the flooding during storm surges will continue.

"Lengthening of the breakwater is important para hindi nadadanas yung ganyang kalalakas na surge ng tubig na pumapasok," he said. "We will (still) experience that kind of (floods) everytime there is high tide and strong surge or wind."

Singson also disclosed two other options they have in mind.

Another plan is to build a drainage with flood gates and a pumping system to prevent water from backflowing to the streets.

The third plan they are looking at is to use the area underneath the service road of Roxas Blvd as a huge horizontal drainage that will serve as a water basin for all sea water that will overflow from Manila bay during storm surges.

The more obvious option, Singson said, which is to add more height to the existing newly built sea wall, may be impractical since it will block the view along the famous baywalk.

The newly built sea wall was sturdy enough to hold the battering of the storm surge, meaning it was not damaged unlike the storm surge during typhoon Pedring. It did not, however, contain the overflowing water because the waves were as high as the coconut trees. The floods partially subsided shortly after noon, leaving more garbage and mud along Roxas Blvd.

Both northbound and southbound lanes were opened Wednesday afternoon.