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Here at the Sunbelt headquarters in Tampa Bay, Florida, we’ve had limited contact with the staff in our research office in Manila, Philippines, about the flooding situation there from Tropical Storm Ondoy (also called Ketsana).

Our Manila office is in an area affected by flooding, but is on an upper floor and not damaged. One researcher is in the office and is attempting to coordinate communications. He reported Sunday that he hadn’t heard from eight of the 15 staff members.

On Saturday, the Philippine Weather Bureau recorded 341 millimeters of rainfall (nearly14 inches) in six hours. The storm caused the worst flooding in more than 25 years. The government has declared a “state of national calamity” in 27 provinces. Pasig City a suburb of Manila has been hard hit by flood water from the Pasig River.

On Sunday, Michael St. Neitzel, VP for Threat Research and Development received the following email from Philippine research group member Francis Montesino:

“I’m bunking in the office since the apartment I live in is still inaccessible. Our office building/area is not greatly affected, but it seems our main Internet line as well as our phone line is down. Internet connection is slow as of the moment. I might be the only one reporting to the office tomorrow, though I plan to do some volunteer work early in the morning before doing some actual work.”

Montesino said that he had not heard from eight of the 15 research office staffers. Those that were in contact had reported they were unable to get to the office because of high flood waters.

Also on Sunday, researcher Aldous de los Santos reported that “our subdivision and other nearby subdivision are submerged in flood waters. =( Only roofs can be seen in most houses. We (including our neighbors) camped in our 2nd floor of our house for two nights now. The ground area is where our cars are parked and where the sala and kitchen are located and it’s submerged.

We did not evacuate our houses since it did not reach our 2nd floor area. But, from view in my house, only roofs of my neighbor’s houses can be seen. The water is subsiding already. Hopefully tomorrow, we can start fixing our things. My car was completely submerged for more than 24 hours.

We have 9 cars affected within place. We did not know that this can happen. We are all surprised. The water did rise very fast and we are not thinking that it can be high as house’s roof or our ground floor’s ceiling. There are many other nearby areas affected. I have surveyed the area by swimming out of my place to acquire some food.

Power/electricity has been cut-off since Saturday when water is beginning to rise, I’m not sure how long are they going to restore or put it back since houses are still in waters. I will try to get a power generator. But, looks like there will be lots of people buying stuffs since appliances and others things were washed out.

I heard that even large malls are affected. The Ortigas area where our office is located has been affected too, I haven’t surveyed yet. As of this afternoon, the Ortigas Ave. Ext. is not passable because water is very deep for bus/cars or people to pass thru. Transportation is very difficult. So, I did not bother to go farther place. It’s going to be difficult for me without my car. =(

I haven’t talked with the other guys since communication is difficult too. Cell phones are useless on all cell network providers yesterday. I think is becoming to be okay as of this afternoon. Since our landline is not working, my DSL is down. I’m using HSDPA to connect to the internet. We have lots of things to do tomorrow when the water completely subsided. Need to clean the place and picking up our things that are washed out. My car needs to be towed and repaired. Not sure if it is repairable though. I hope insurance will cover it. It may not be serviced very soon since there are lots of affected cars and they will be bombarded with cars that need to be checked and repaired.

Well, any kind of help here will be appreciated. I’m not sure how the other guys were affected but this is my story (so far) =(”

According to news reports, the country’s government is estimating that 435,000 people in Manila and provinces north of there are homeless.

St. Neitzel said: “We’re very concerned about our staff members in Manila and we’re attempting to establish communications with them. We’ve had limited contact via the Internet. From news reports, it appears that the floodwaters have begun to recede, however, many people are homeless and, in at least one Manila suburb, the flood waters were still a serious threat on Monday.

“If anyone would like to help the victims of the flooding, we encourage them to go through the Philippine Red Cross (URL here.)”

Research staff in Clearwater will be picking up the duties of the Manila staff until they can get their office back on line.

News story here.

GMA News (Manila TV station) report here.

Tom Kelchner