MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — The Marikina River overflowed early Saturday as intense monsoon rains continued to pound Metro Manila, prompting residents to seek shelter in evacuation centers.
As of 10 a.m., the water level at the Marikina River has risen to 16.4 meters, up from earlier in the day, the Marikina Public Information Office said in an update. It was at 16.2 meters 3 hours earlier.
In an interview on TeleRadyo, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said the river rose due to continuous rains, forcing them to conduct preemptive evacuation as a precaution.
He said authorities are doubly careful in the evacuation because of the threat of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.
"Ang mahirap ngayon doble ingat ang ginawa natin dahil sa Delta variant. Dahil nga buong linggo na ang halos na naging pag-ulan talagang tuloy-tuloy ang pagtaas ng Marikina River at nakita rin natin kagabi bandang ala-1 ng madaling araw na-experience natin pinakamalas na buhos ng ulan at nagtuloy-tuloy hanggang kaninang alas-3 ng madaling araw," he said.
(What's hard is that we have to also be careful of the Delta variant. Because it was raining the whole week, the water level continues to rise in Marikina and we also experienced the heaviest rains this morning at 1 a.m. which lasted until 3 a.m.)
Teodoro said that this forced 1,268 families or 5,375 individuals to seek higher ground.
He said 26 evacuation centers in the city are now operational, with a total 2,987 families or 12,804 individuals evacuated.
"... [H]alos lahat ay hindi pa natutulog dahil lumikas sa dilim ng gabi," he said.
(Almost all of them have yet to get sleep because they evacuated in the dead of the night.)
Photos and videos captured by ABS-CBN News showed the river has breached the bank, inundating a riverside park.
Carrying their valuables, residents sought shelter at the Malanday Elementary School as the risk of flooding rose with non-stop rains.
It was at the evacuation center when residents also felt the tremor that struck at dawn Saturday, brought by a magnitude 6.6 quake that struck off Calatagan, Batangas.
“Sa lakas ng lindol na ‘yon medyo nenerbiyosin din tayo kasi may lindol na, may baha pa. Ano nang mangyayari sa atin? Pero maniwala tayo sa Panginoon, nandiyan ang Panginoon hindi tayo pababayaan,” said resident Helen Mallari, who was at the 4th floor of the evacuation center when the quake struck.
(With that strong quake, you’d naturally feel nervous because there’s a quake and then there are floods. What will happen to us? But let us have faith in God, He is there, he will not neglect us.)
Marikina City is periodically stricken by flooding as it catches rainwater from slopes of mountains in nearby Rizal province.
It saw disastrous flooding in November last year when Typhoon Ulysses struck, prompting the declaration of a state of calamity in the city.
Teodoro hopes that when the Wawa Dam in Rodriguez, Rizal is rehabilitated, water could be contained in the reservoir and slowly released into the Marikina River.
"Di tulad ngayon pagbuhos ng ulan, ilang miinuto lamang, mga 30 minutes, bumababa na tubig galing sa kabundukan," said Teodoro.
(Unlike now, after a downpour in just about 30 minutes water from the mountain will rush down.)
Rains have drenched Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon for several days this week due to the effects of the southwest monsoon and Typhoon Fabian.
Heavy rains are expected to persist due to the monsoon, the state weather bureau said.
- with reports from Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News