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Salceda warns: Rains causing floods, landslides could be “greatest enemy” as Queenie loom;, rapid evacuation systems better than rescue

October 31st, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district), known during his governorship of Albay for establishing a “zero-casualty doctrine” and pioneering disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures, warned that “floods and landslides could be the greatest enemy” as Tropical Storm Queenie threatens to take a similar path as Typhoon Paeng took when it struck various parts of the country.

“The problem with having a new typhoon so soon after a previous one is the soil has not regained its capacity to absorb water. Our inland bodies of water are still full. So, any strong rains, even if the typhoon doesn’t make landfall at all, could cause serious flooding or landslides,” Salceda warned.

Salceda cited that some 500,000 people in the Bangsamoro region were affected by flooding and heavy rains even if “Paeng made landfall nowhere near the region.”

Salceda noted that the same areas that were severely affected by flooding during Paeng, such as parts of Maguindanao del Norte and Cagayan, were also affected by above-average rains two weeks ago during Typhoon Obet.

“These areas already experienced significant rain just two weeks before Paeng. North Luzon, in particular, has experienced more than 120% the normal rainfall from October 1-23, prior to Paeng. And similar areas were affected by rains associated with the Typhoon. We have to watch out for rain in those same areas.”

“So, what could make Queenie’s impacts national in scope isn’t the wind, although that could be a serious threat too, depending on how it gains strength. Flooding could make this coming typhoon national in scope.”

Salceda added that the Cagayan and Pampanga River Basins, as well as the Magat Sub-Basin are under flood watch as of October 31, according to the PAGASA’s Basin Hydrological Forecast.

“Heavy rainfall in those areas would, obviously, increase risks of actual flooding,” Salceda added.

Salceda added that all of PAGASA’s monitored dams have been increasing in level over the past 24 hours, although still below normal high-water level.

Flood rescue, evacuation systems critical

Salceda says that “areas that have experienced heavy rainfall over the past few days, where the carrying capacity of soil is already limited, and which are low-lying, are known to our disaster authorities. PAGASA and the NDRRMC know these areas.”

“So, prepositioning flood rescue, evacuation, and mobility assets will be of the highest priority in these areas.”

“If the area has been wet for days, is set to experience even more rains over the coming days, then obviously, and is more flood-prone than surrounding areas, then assets for rescue and evacuation should already be ready for such areas.”

“I would even argue that evacuation would be more important than rescue in that regard. Rescue missions risk the lives of first responded, as we just experienced a few weeks ago in Bulacan. And, if things go really bad, rescue is often too late.”

“So, mobility assets and evacuation preparations should be the highest priority. We already know what areas are likely to flood. Paeng already gives us painful hindsight on that,” Salceda added.

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