Manila is under water

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MANILA, Philippines - Flooding caused by days of torrential rains forced more than a quarter million people from their homes in parts of the Philippine capital and surrounding provinces.

The government said that at least 50 percent of metropolitan Manila was under water, displacing an estimated 270,000 people, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

The deep water blocked roads, stranded motorists and flooded homes. Water was up to 9 feet deep in some neighborhoods and was waist deep throughout much of the city center, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Aug. 7 that at least 53 people had died since the onset of the rains July 28.

Five others were reported missing and 35 were injured.

Church aid agencies mobilized to provide supplies and hygiene kits to displaced families.

Joe Curry, country representative for Catholic Relief Service in the Philippines, told Catholic News Service Aug. 8 that the agency planned to distribute materials to 1,000 families staying in evacuation centers.

Some Catholic churches opened facilities and provided food packs for fleeing families, Curry said.

While the rain eased Aug. 8, Curry said people were expected to remain in the centers for days.

"We're waiting to see how quickly the water recedes," he said. "A lot of people were evacuated pre-emptively. We have to wait and see how many people go back tomorrow or the next day."

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration had declared a red alert late Aug. 6 after dams and rivers near the capital overflowed.

Authorities shut off electrical power to much of the city.

The government suspended work and classes in the Manila metropolitan area and the provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Rizal, Tarlac and Zambales.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said 100 evacuation centers, including 42 in the capital region, had opened to receive people forced from their homes.

Overall, about 1 million people in 35 provinces were affected by the flooding. The region around the capital is home to 12 million people.

Police officers and army reservists were sent to help with rescue efforts, CNN reported.

Government meteorologists said heavy rain from Typhoon Saola began July 28 and that storm was followed immediately by the normal monsoon rains that affect the region in July and August. A second tropical storm northeast of Taiwan enhanced the monsoons, causing up to an inch and half of rain to fall per hour, meteorologists said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970