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Tropical Storm Ondoy Devastates the Philippines

Updated on September 16, 2012

The Devastation Left By Tropical Storm Ketsana (locally called Ondoy)

On Saturday, September 26, 2009, the whole country was shocked to see on TV the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Ketsana (or Typhoon Ondoy). As early as Thursday, the usual warnings were already raised on the possibility of flood and other negative effects of the typhoon. However, few people could have actually predicted the resulting flash flood, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, the death of almost 100 Filipinos in the various areas affected and the resulting damage to infrastructure and crops. This unexpectedness caught a lot of people unprepared, including government officials and agencies who were (and still are) criticized for their slowness in responding to the Filipinos who are in need.

Affected Areas

Tropical Storm Ondoy affected various parts in Luzon - Metro Manila (where the capital, Manila, is located), Central Luzon (Pampanga, Bulacan) and the Calabarzon area (Rizal, Quezon, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas). Metro Manila was the hardest hit with approximately 80% submerged in deep flood, affecting millions of people.

As of the writing of this hub, Tropical Storm Ondoy is said to be exiting the country. However, the destruction doesn't end there. The storm is said to have caused further damage in southern Mindanao through flash floods and power failures.

Extent of the Damage

Here are some facts and figures about the extend of the damage brought about by Tropical Storm Ondoy. Please note, however, that these figures are not yet final as the government and other concerned agencies have yet to assess the actual extent of the damage wrought by this typhoon:

  • Death toll is already 100 and still rising; with over 50% in the Calabarzon area and only 6% in the Metro Manila area. This, however, does not include certain areas in Metro Manila where the concerned government agencies are still gathering the said data. The media, however, has reported that they have already counted over 50 casualties in Metro Manila alone. UPDATE: Official death toll count is now 240. UPDATE #2: Death toll is already estimated to be around 377.
  • There are 32 persons still unaccounted for.
  • The typhoon dropped heavy rains (and strong winds) for 9 to 12 hours in the areas affected (rains were said to be the heaviest over the last 40 years and were actually said to be worse than Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, USA).
  • The heavy rains took their toll and caused massive floods. At their deepest level, these floods were said to be 6 meters or 20 feet deep. The result? Cars, low-level houses, rice fields and the streets were all deep in water.To make matters worse, landslides also occurred in several areas in Metro Manila.
  • Number of people said to be affected in Metro Manila alone - almost 450,000.
  • Estimated amount of damage to infrastructure, crops and properties - P110 million or over $2.0 million. UPDATE: The current damage is much more than the originally estimated amount. In Marikina alone, one of the hardest hit by the flood, the estimate cost to rebuilt the city is P1 billion or $20 million. UPDATE #2: Estimated damage is already up to P10 billion or $200 million.

More than the statistics / figures shown above, I'll never forget seeing my countrymen wading in neck-deep water carrying their prized possessions. Or a father holding his child's crib (which acted as a lifeboat for the sleeping baby) while walking along flooded streets. Or dead bodies being found on the streets once the flood subsided. These images stay with you even after you have turned off the TV and after the flood has subsided. This flood will always be remembered for it is the worst ever experienced by the country.

Unprepared Government

The flood took everybody by surprise, even the Philippine Government and the local government units as well. In the past, the country was used to taking care of one city or two or a province or two whenever a calamity such as this arises. But, with Tropical Storm Ondoy, more than 10 cities are affected and more than 5 provinces were devastated as well. The government's resources were just not enough to quickly deliver emergency measures or even rescue all the people who were stranded. Even until now, some people are still on top of their roofs while others still do not have any food to eat or water to drink.

The Bayanihan Spirit

Through all these, it is encouraging to see the Filipino's bayanihan (community) spirit rising again. Filipinos who were not affected by the flood rushed to the aid of their countrymen to help them. Private citizens volunteered the use of their rubber boats to save those who were stranded in the flood. Donations, in cash or in kind, are pouring from all over the country and even abroad to help out those in need. Individuals, private citizens became unsung heroes for their selfless acts to save their countrymen (see link). What the government lacked in terms of manpower and resources, the Filipinos are making up by contributing whatever they can. These are the times when you can really see how Filipinos (here and abroad) help each other in times of need. Even as I write and update this hub, Filipino communities from all over the world are mobilizing to give donations and aids to their countrymen.

Last Note

My husband, mother, niece and I are lucky enough that we do not live in the areas devastated by the floods. However, my siblings, aunts, nephews, nieces and in-laws are all in those areas. Communication was difficult but by the end of Sunday, we were able to hear from all of them and I'm just glad they are all okay. To the Filipino hubbers out there, here's hoping I will hear from you soon. Mabuhay!

General Update

With northern Philippines still trying to recover from this storm, another storm (Typhoon Pepeng) has already entered the Philippine area of responsibility. With maximum sustained winds of 130 kph and gustiness of up to 160 kph, the center is this typhoon is already 750 kms. east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar (as of 10:00 pm, Sept. 30) and is moving in the general location of northern Philippines. I hope it will not wreak the same havoc as Typhoon Ondoy!


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