Flooding is a regular problem in the Philippines, but the disaster that occurred in September 2009, when Typhoon Ketsana lashed the islands, was exceptional. Intense downpours created devastating flooding. The storm was known locally as Typhoon Onday and its impact was greatest on the island of Luzon – home of the capital city, Manila – and the nearby province of Rizal. Average rainfall for September is 39 cm (15,4 in), but a staggering 34 cm (13.4 in) of rain fell on Metro Manila’s interlinked communities in just six hours – the heaviest precipitation for decades. The consequences were disastrous.
A large part of Manila was inundated, with raging floodwaters rising to chest height in places. The storm struck on a Sunday, when most people were at home, and tens of thousands of families had to take refuge on the roofs of their homes to await rescue by army helicopters. Roads were impassable, though many saw unusual traffic passing through – processions of cars floating atop muddy water. There were widespread power failures and sewerage systems were overwhelmed, along with the fresh water supply. Nino Aquino International Airport was shut down.
Rivers burst their banks in Rizal province, flooding numerous communities to a depth of 6 m (20 ft). The rains caused frequent landslips and building collapses, often resulting in fatalities.
President Gloria Arroyo declared a ‘state of calamity’ and the Philippines government mounted a massive rescue operation.
Boats toured Manila and rescued several thousand people. Aid centers were set up to cater for the vast number of people – up to – displaced by the floods, offering temporary accommodation, food, clean water and adequate sanitation. Luzon’s infrastructure sustained long-term damage, huge areas of standing crops were destroyed and hundreds died.
When: September 26 2009
Where: Manila, Philippines
Death toll: The official casualty figure for the Philippines was 464 deaths.
You should know: After hitting the Philippines, Typhoon Ketsena gathered strength and went on to make a second landfall, this time close to the port city of Da Nang In Vietnam. Despite an official evacuation of 170,000 people ahead of Ketsana’s arrival, around 180 people died and hundreds were injured, while the storm itself and subsequent flooding did much damage. Including shutting down much of the country’s electricity grid.