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Cablegate: Tropical Storm Ondoy Lashes Manila;

VZCZCXRO5667
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2049/01 2710914
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 280914Z SEP 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5295
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHOVQHS/COMSEVENTHFLT IMMEDIATE
INFO RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2285
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0309
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUEHRO/USMISSION UN ROME IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002049

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

BANGKOK FOR USAID /OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR A.
DWYER
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA R. THAYER
USAID W/ FOR ANE/AA AND DCHA/FPP
GENEVA FOR N. KYLOH
USUN FOR OFDA REP
BRUSSELS FOR P. BROWN
ROME FOR USAID/OHA H. SPANOS
SECDEF FOR SOLIC
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR J3/J4/J5
PACOM FOR J3/J4/J5
NSC FOR P. MARCHAM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SOCI PREL KPAO SENV EAGR RP
SUBJECT: TROPICAL STORM ONDOY LASHES MANILA;
FLOODING DISPLACES THOUSANDS; USG RESPONSE

REFTELS: A) Manila 2046 B) Manila 1909

1. (U) On Saturday September 26 tropical
storm Ondoy (international name Ketsana)
deposited 16 inches of rain in 12 hours and
inundated large sections of Metro Manila and
the island of Luzon. The storm accelerated
and changed course as it arrived in Luzon,
and caught the Philippines unprepared for
the torrential rainfall. The government has
declared a national calamity in Metro Manila
and 27 provinces in Luzon, and the National
Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC)
estimates that over 450,000 people were
affected by the storm, with 100 people
believed dead and dozens missing.
Floodwaters damaged thousands of homes, and
approximately 50,000 persons have sought
shelter in evacuation centers.

---------------
U.S. Assistance
---------------

2. (SBU) At the request of the Government of
the Philippines, The U.S. Joint Special
Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P)
mobilized a helicopter and four rubber boats
to aid with assistance efforts. They
distributed relief supplies and helped
rescue an estimated 50 people from inundated
areas of the city on Sunday, operating until
midnight. The Ambassador has declared a
disaster and requested $100,000 from the
USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
to be provided to the Philippine National
Red Cross (reftel A).

----------------
Embassy Flooding
----------------

3. (SBU) The Embassy Chancery building was
flooded during the storm, with power and
communications temporarily cut. Power has
yet to be restored to this building, with
cleanup and repairs ongoing. The Embassy
was closed to the public Monday September
28th, but will be open on the 29th, offering
Consular and other services from the Annex
building. Staff is working to restore the
Chancery building's systems for a possible
re-opening on September 29. Embassy direct-
hire and locally-employed staff families
were also affected, with several houses
flooded and families moving to temporary
housing. Post will contact the Foreign
Service National Relief Fund for information
on support that can be provided to locally
employed staff. Liberal leave will be
granted to Embassy employees this week for
all who are affected by the flooding.

4. (SBU) The Consular Section has received
inquiries on behalf of 43 American citizens
believed to be stranded in various flood-
stricken areas. Staff has located and
confirmed the well-being of 23 of these
individuals, and has also confirmed the

MANILA 00002049 002 OF 002


safety of all American citizen prisoners.
The NDCC provided names of identified
casualties and so far, none are American
citizens. When the Embassy switchboard went
down, staff created a Yahoo address for
American citizen inquiries and publicized it
through a press announcement.

----------
Next Steps
----------

5. (SBU) The Embassy's Emergency Action
Committee has formulated next steps, which
include offering continued assistance to the
GRP, Red Cross and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) on rescuing stranded
persons and delivery of relief supplies.
The Ambassador has been in touch with senior
Philippine officials on our continuing
efforts; the GRP has expressed gratitude.
An official from the USAID's Office of
Foreign Disaster Assistance in Bangkok will
arrive Tuesday to help coordinate relief and
recovery efforts. The Embassy Staff is also
exploring with the U.S. military ways to
expedite and redirect community relations
projects planned for the upcoming Talon
Vision/Philippines Bilateral Exercise
(PHIBLEX) to help areas affected by this
disaster.

-------
Comment
-------

6. (SBU) The Philippines remains one of the
world's most disaster-prone nations. The
Embassy and U.S. military's ability to react
quickly and effectively to recent disasters
- a ferry that capsized on September 6
(reftel B) and now this flooding -
highlights the value of close engagement
with the USG. Our efforts at this time of
heated dialogue and political posturing over
the value of the U.S.-Philippines Visiting
Forces Agreement help demonstrate that the
agreement can positively affect the lives of
ordinary Filipinos in times of need.

KENNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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