In all previous years, at this time of the year – the month of June – our attention would turn to the problems of the rainy season. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, national attention is so focused on the continuing infections and deaths along with the quarantine restrictions that other issues and problems may not be getting their due attention.
We, therefore, welcome reports that Quezon City has now released guidelines for the floods expected this rainy season, but with an angle connecting this annual problem of flooding to the new problem of the coronavirus.
QC Mayor Joy Belmonte released Friday guidelines prepared by the city government to boost its preparedness for the expected rains and floods. The city’s risk reduction and management office was directed to list all its flood-prone areas and identify all evacuation locations, usually schools and covered basketball courts. The Tatalon area in QC has been known to be among the first areas to get flooded at the start of the rainy season.
But in the whole of Metro Manila, the highest risks of flooding are said to be in parts of Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, Marikina, Navotas, Pasay, and Pasig. Here the floods are due not only to heavy rains and low terrain, but also to urban sprawl and population growth.
The guidelines issued by Mayor Belmonte last week included precautions and other moves that need to be taken this year because of the ongoing pandemic. Thus she called for an updated list of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases to ensure that they are transported and sheltered separately in case of evacuations. Proper physical distancing must be maintained in the evacuation centers. All city personnel responding to calls for evacuation must have the proper personal protective equipment.
All local governments in Metro Manila and in the rest of the country should now be reviewing their own plans and programs for the rainy season and incorporate measures to guard against the new danger posed b y COVID-19.
The rainy season is upon us with all its expected dangers but all preparations must now include measures to protect everyone against the coronavirus which is likely to continue threatening us and the rest of the world for many more months, perhaps even years.