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Social networks help Filipinos deal with Manila floods

Manila is still at risk for more flooding, but recovery efforts are underway, and many are turning to social networking sites to update and get updates on the situation.

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A man uses a boat to carry people across a flooded street in San Juan, east of Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Aug. 8. Widespread flooding that paralyzed the Philippine capital began to ease Wednesday as rescue efforts focused on a large number of distressed residents, some still marooned on their roofs.

John Javellana/AP

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The sprawling Philippines capital of Manila is edging into recovery mode after monsoon rains killed at least 19 people and left much of the city of 15 million under waist and chest high water.

The Philippine government today said people should return to work as soon as possible, as rains eased off early Wednesday. But more rain later hit the city, 60 percent of which is under water, according to national disaster agency head Benito Ramos.

Many are turning to social networking sites to update and get updates on the situation. But even as recovery work kicks into gear, the capital remains vulnerable.

“If we have more rains we will really be in serious trouble,” says Mon Casiple, director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER). 

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim declared a state of calamity in the capital earlier Wednesday. Aurea Calica, journalist with the Philippine Star, says that she is stuck inside the Malacañang Palace Compound in Manila this evening local time. “When I came here the roads were still passable but when I was about to leave before 7 p.m. the streets were already flooded,” she says. 

Ms. Calica was corresponding with fellow journalists via Twitter and Twitter's direct message system, highlighting how social networking and cellphones have become a vital link in the rescue and relief chain. People stranded on rooftops have been SMSing for help, while many Filipinos have taken to Facebook and Twitter to post updates and supplement government and media coverage of the floods and rescue work.

According to a July World Bank report titled “Information and Communications for Development: Maximizing Mobile,” there were 101 mobile cellular subscriptions for every 100 people in the Philippines in 2011, up from 41 subscriptions for every 100 people 6 years previously.

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