martes, 20 de diciembre de 2011

My Story…Their Story…Our Shared Story (A personal story of surviving the worst flood in the country)

I woke up with a sense of panic when I heard the sudden impact of rampaging floods entering our room. I was even more shocked when I saw that it was coming from the airconditioner which was 1 feet from the floor. It was about 12:30am.

Immediately I woke up Belle and grabbed Kuya Danni from his bed. I then ran to the room of Ate Gabbi and Sammi who were still asleep. The water inside the house was already knee- deep but it was rising so fast that all the things on the floor started floating and falling. The kids were shouting and told them to keep silent..I initially ask them to stay ontop of our kitchen counter to keep them from the cold water. Fortunately we had a big flashlight with us which Ate Gabbi she used the night before. So when I pointed the light outside I saw how fast the water was rising. I shouted to our neighbor outside who then told us to get out and joined them in their higher place. I forced the door to open which was really difficult but somehow Kuya Danni used his body to get the bigger opening. That gave everyone the space to get out and swim from our front door to thevehicle that was parked and then to gate. At that time that water outside was already 6-7 feet deep.

When the three kids were already in the gate, while Belle and I were still holding on to the car,I told them to swim to our neighbor who lived across our house and already on their balcony as their second floor. The flashlight gave us a good sight in the midst of strong rains and cold rampaging flood. Without hesitation, the three kids swim with confidence and were pulled out immediately by our neighbor, then Belle and I followed. By then we have to move to their rooftopas the water rose to about 11-12feet.


While we gathered to the top,wesaw another neighbor with a family of 5, on top of their house, beside ours. The wife was starting to be hysterical who asked that they be rescued. I told them to just follow the electric lines then they can grab a roll of wooden screen that I was holding. I have to tell them strongly that they will die if they will not get out from their rooftop before they finally decided to transfer to our position. We grabbed them one by one as they cried and wailed as if they were going to die in that instance.

We were finally settled on rooftop, 5 families all in all, and another 1 who came from behind. I felt so helpless, hearing the cry for “Tabang!” (help) or was that “Tabangi mi!” from everywhere around us. Too disturbing was the wailing of the children who were either too frightened or about to be drowned.

Looking back, that was the most difficult moment, not even when we nearly experienced death as we struggled to open the door to get out and be saved from the floods.
We stayed there for two hours hoping and praying that the water will stop rising. By 3am, the water slowly receded and everybody was hoping for rescue but nobody came until the break of dawn.

By 530 the water was knee-deep so I asked Kuya Danni to come with me and go down to take a look at our house and the whole neighborhood. The girls followed and look for our other home companion, our dog Whitey. We found him covered with mud. He was our companion for almost five years already.

Out in the street, people are all around. I saw an 11 year old girl covered by a plastic wrap, faces of mothers attending to their sleeping children, people from all walks of life, looking, searching, clinging on to what obviously was left after the flash flood. As we walked down further, we met more and more troubled people, almost all houses especially those made from light materials were destroyed, a bigred tank of molasses lay almost at the center of the street, a number policemen helped carry the dead bodies in government vehicles, I counted about ten dead bodies in the street. I was told that many bodies were already lined up near rose pharmacy, the place higher than our street.

Moreover, I saw one woman crying asking her neighbors if they saw her daughter. I saw a man sitting on his chair with a blank stare. I saw not only physical destruction but also felt the psychological destruction from this neighborhood alone. What more from the rest of the city?

Back to our house full of mud and debris, I told myself that I will start all over again as we lost completely everything. While my family will start the year to rebuild the house which will take a month or two, depending on our resources, we will also rebuild our hopes and dreams to become a better family – which I think is clearly here and now! Soon we will be able to buy the basic things to make the house functional, buy things for the kids and all other basic requirements. I said to myself that this is going to be very difficult but when I think of those who underwent a more severe psychological destruction, there is no reason for me to complain. It is in fact a challenge to respond to.

There are thousands of families out there still crying, still lost, still hoping their missing family members are still alive. People are lining up for food, medicine and water everyday. Again there is no reason to complain, there is a lot to do even I myself has suffered and will suffer in the next few days.

And so just like 2009 flooding in the city and in the province, BalayMindanaw, which is also our temporary home, transformed itself as relief center for the victims of the floods. While 10 other colleagues suffered badly because of the floods, BalayMindanaw resisted the idea of becoming a victim. As our dear Dekha Ibrahim declared “I refused to be a victim, I am a resource”.

In the days to come, it will still be a collective stories of despair, death, destruction and hopelessness. But as the local people starts to become resources, things will become better. Hard hit communities will be assisted better not only when they are hungry but hopefully as they rebuild their homes and families. And just like any other crisis, this too shall pass. This is not just my story and their story. It is our shared story.

Quienes quieráis colaborar con nosotros, podéis hacerlo a través de la siguiente cuenta bancaria:

Banco Santander
0049 5232 87 2710029050
Asunto de “Donación a Filipinas”

LA MANDARINA SOLIDARIA

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