POSTED: 5:12 a.m. HST, Aug 9, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 5:34 a.m. HST, Aug 9, 2012
MANILA, Philippines >> Thousands of Filipinos shoveled muck and debris from flood-ravaged homes, shops and roads under a shining sun Thursday after nearly two weeks of nonstop rain shut down the capital and forced hundreds of thousands to flee from the deluge.
At least 23 people died and nearly 2 million people were affected by Manila's worst flooding since 2009. More than half of the sprawling metropolis of 12 million was submerged at the peak, and schools and offices have been closed for days.
Under a hot sun Thursday as the rain finally stopped, residents began to fix disheveled homes and stores in flood-hit communities that resembled a wasteland littered with mud-caked garbage. Some of the displaced in still-crowded evacuation centers have begun to trickle back to neighborhoods, where floodwaters have subsided, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said, but more than 314,000 people remained in hundreds of evacuation centers in Manila and outlying provinces.
"We were totally washed out," said Rudy Aquino, a flower shop owner along Araneta Avenue, where more than three meters (10 feet) of rampaging floodwaters swamped everything and carried all sorts of trash and even a wayward cargo truck.
Aquino, whose shop also was hit by the more massive flashflood in 2009, was moving to a safer location when the deluge engulfed his business on Tuesday and again late Wednesday when floodwaters rose again. As he tried to rise from the latest onslaught, a fresh supply of red orchids arrived at his shop Thursday as he and staff were cleaning up.
Even though the weather has cleared, the government was busy with rescue and relief work in the worst-hit areas, especially along swollen rivers and coastal communities. In hard-hit Marikina city in the capital, rescuers on rubber boats floated down still-flooded streets to reach thousands of residents marooned in submerged houses along the Marikina River.
After the rains stopped, thousands of shoppers descended on grocery stores to stack up on food and other supplies.