MONSOON rain enhanced by tropical storm “Gorio” paralyzed most of Metro Manila and nearby provinces on Thursday, as floods prompted Malacañang and local officials to suspend classes and work in government.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made the announcement in a news briefing Thursday afternoon.
“The Office of the Executive Secretary announced work suspension in all government offices in NCR [National Capital Region] starting at 1 p.m. today. The same with classes in public schools in all levels,” Abella said.
He added that the Palace left it to the discretion of private schools to do the same.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported up to knee-deep floods in Manila, Makati, and Quezon City, rendering roads in these cities impassable to light vehicles, early Thursday.
The MMDA also monitored the water level of the Marikina river, which rose to 14 meters yesterday, a meter short before a first alarm is raised to prepare residents in the area for a possible evacuation.
Except for Makati, Taguig, Quezon City, and Pasig, the rest of the cities in Metro Manila suspended classes early due to heavy rain.
Later in the day, Taguig, Makati and Pasig followed suit, with Quezon City finally deciding to suspend classes at 11 a.m
Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte incurred the ire of the public for the late suspension and her 4 a.m. post on Facebook where she said that the local government did not base suspensions solely on “bandwagon effect.”
Belmonte cited Pagasa’s forecast, saying that she, together with Myke Marasigan, chief of the Quezon City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, decided not to suspend classes.
She said that there were “only light to moderate rains” over Metro Manila, which was not a basis for class suspension.
“These rains were not predicted to be any more unusual than typical monsoon rains. On and off. Not a continuous downpour. No warning signals were issued,” she added.
Mayor Herbert Bautista is in Japan.
Making a killing
In Manila, pedicab, and tricycle drivers made a killing at the height of the downpour, charging as much as P50 to ferry commuters to their destination.
“We could not complain because we have no choice or else we would reach our work place drenched in rain water,” said Melinda Bueno, 36, a cashier at a restaurant along M.H. Del Pilar Street in Ermita area.
She paid P50 from United Nations Avenue corner Taft Avenue to her work place.
“This is the only time when we earn a lot. However, we exert effort more than double because of the flooding,” said Jojo Marquez, 24, a pedicab driver plying the United Nations Avenue and nearby streets.
He started working yesterday at 7 a.m. and as of 11 a.m. had earned P320.
“Gorio” also submerged several villages in Bulacan, Olongapo and Bataan, with floodwaters of up to eight feet, rendering roads impassable to light vehicles, according to provincial disaster officials.
Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management officer Liz Mungcal said Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado have alerted all teams.
Meanwhile, water level in Angat dam was 185.92 meters (spilling level 210 meters); 101.10 meters in Ipo dam (spilling level 101 meters) and 16.16 meters in Bustos dam (spilling level 17. 50 meters).
Rains dumped by “Gorio” also caused flooding in most parts of Olongapo but which quickly subsided in the afternoon.
Classes were suspended in Valenzuela, Pampanga, Zambales, Bataan, Cavite; San Pedro, Laguna; Rizal, Bulacan, Olongapo City; and in Bani, Pangasinan.
In its 5 p.m. bulletin, Pagasa said “Gorio” had intensified into a severe tropical storm.
It was forecast to be out of the country by next week.
WITH CATHERINE VALENTE, JAN MARGARETTE PEGA, Ernie Esconde, GABRIELA BARON, LIAN SILLADA AND ALYSSA CAMERINO ELSHAMAE ROBLES AND JAIME PILAPIL