Low-lying areas near Tullahan River warned of possible flooding if La Mesa Dam overflows

Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 13 2020 09:57 PM

MANILA - PAGASA on Tuesday warned there may be possible flooding in low-lying areas near the Tullahan River, located in north of Manila, if the La Mesa Dam overflows due to heavy rains.

As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, La Mesa Dam's water level was at 79.70 meters, which is 0.45 meters away from its 80.15 meter overflow elevation.

PAGASA Hydrologist Oyie Pagulayan said La Mesa Dam is different from other dams that have flood gates. 

"So wala siyang kakayahan to stop the water," Pagulayan explained. "Talagang mag-overflow po siya once na ma-reach po ung tinatawag nating kanyang overflow elevation."

(So it does not have the capability to stop the water. It will really overflow once it reaches its so-called overflow elevation.)

Areas around Tullahan River include San Bartolome, Fairview, Forest Hills Subdivision, Quirino Highway, Sta. Quiteria in Quezon City; and Brgy. Ligon, North Expressway, and La Huerta Subdivision in Valenzuela. Malabon also surrounds the area.

Pagulayan said this should not raise fear but preparedness among residents and local government units. 

"We just always advise 'yung ating mga komunidad, 'yung preparedness po."

(We always advise our community to prepare.). 

"'Yung pagbaha is parang part na kasi ng ating mga ilog, part ng dynamics ng Pilipinas, being in the typhoon belt. 'Yung location, geographically, ay nandun po tayo," she said.

(Flooding can be considered part of our rivers, part of the Philippines' dynamics, being in the typhoon belt. Our location, geographically, indicates that we are there.)

San Bartolome chairman Lamberto Pascual said their covered court will serve as an evacuation area in case residents will be forced to temporarily leave their residence due to flooding. Food packs and blankets will also be prepared for evacuees. 

"Basta nag-start na 'yung malakas na ulan, 'yung mga tao ko nag-iikot na. Nagmo-monitor, in case tumaas na, pwede nang lumikas," he said. 

(Once heavy rains start to pour, my staff will do their rounds. They would monitor in case water level rises, and residents will be evacuated.)

Pascual recounted that aside from tropical storm Ondoy in 2009, they have not experienced major flooding in areas near the Tullahan River which is home to about 14,000 individuals. 

He said the retaining wall installed between the river and residences helped in mitigating floods.

"Kontrolado 'yung tubig. 'Yung height nito more than 20 (feet). I think it's 25 feet ang taas mula sa floor. Parehas yan. Kaya ang taas ng tubig diyan, hindi na mag-o-overflow. 

(The water is controlled. Its height is more than 20. I think it's 25 feet above the floor. Same goes for the other portion. That's why even if the water rises, there will be no overflow.)

"Kaya wala na ngayong gaanong report na bumabaha ang bawat barangay kasi nako-kontrol ng retaining wall," he said.

(That's why there have been less reports about flood incidents in barangays because the water flow can be controlled by the retaining wall.)

Remedios Fernandez has been a resident of California Riverside, a surrounding area of Tullahan River, for almost 20 years. 

Last year, they experienced floods due to the habagat, but she recalled that Ondoy was their worst experience when talking about flooding.

"'Yng bahay namin natabunan talaga, 'yung mga gamit namin lahat nasa ilalim na," she said.

(Our house really sunk, all our belongings were found below the ground.)

Fernandez said she sometimes fears for their lives when there are heavy rains and threats of flood, but said her family of three has nowhere to go. 

"Pinataasan na namin 'yung bahay. Handa po kami. Kahit na ano, lahat ng gamit iiwanan namin basta nandiyan na 'yung tubig. May mga gamit naman kami. Iaakyat na lang namin sa taas tapos aalis kami."

(We remodeled the house and added another floor. We are ready. No matter what happens, we will leave all our belongings once flooding starts. We have some belongings. We will just place them upstairs and then leave).

PAGASA urged the public to constantly check social media for updates and abide by their local government's measures in case of disasters.