The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has recently begun the month long intensive cleanup of Metro Manila esteros last Monday, August 8.

Dubbed as the "August Estero Blitz", the daily cleanup is spearheaded by personnel from the agency's Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office and Metro Parkway Clearing Group and is personally supervised by MMDA chief Francis Tolentino.

"We are targeting two esteros per day, which we hope will reduce flooding in most areas," Tolentino said.

The "August Estero Blitz" is an offshoot of the MMDA's successful "480 Minutes Cleanup Drive" which took place last July 24, participated by 8,000 MMDA personnel and volunteers who cleaned Metro Manila's eight identified flood-prone areas.

A study previously conducted by the agency showed that flooding in Metro Manila is caused by the limited capacity of existing esteros, diversion channels, creeks, and other waterways as a result of indiscriminate dumping of garbage.

"A sustainable effort requires the integrated management of activities among government and the citizenry, anchored on effective public-private partnership," Tolentino said.

In a related matter, the MMDA has also inaugurated the newly created Flood Control Information Center (MMDA - FCIC), a new nerve center for the agency's flood control and disaster-related operations.

The FCIC will comprehensively monitor Metro Manila flood-prone areas and provide crucial information needed to make policy decisions in crisis situations. The Center is equipped with sixteen LCD monitors connected to over seventy closed-circuit televisions trained on key Metro Manila intersections, flood-prone areas and pumping stations.

The Center will tap PAG-ASA and other international satellite-based weather monitoring services and utilize an Incident Management and Map Navigation Software that will collate information on flood and other disaster-related incidents. It has a floor map of Metro Manila and outlying waterways that will help trace communities that would be affected when water systems overflow.

"It's a decision support system," said Ramon Santiago, head of the MMDA-FCIC, "especially for emergencies. It collects all information regarding floods and operating systems, especially our pumping stations. We'll be able to draw in information from PAG-ASA and information in critical areas so we can plot incidents and what is the response that we have done, and what further measures we need to do."

"The information generated at the Center will eventually be made available to the Metro Manila local government units and the public, to guide them on what to do during emergencies," he added.