- Posted August 7, 2012 by
Aid Worker Diary: Manila floods leave children, families stranded
As heavy rain poured all day and all night Monday evening, I travelled around Marikina in darkness on my 4x4. At one area, I wondered why cars suddenly stopped. Vehicles started pulling back until my car was the only one left in front of a vast sea of flood water. Then suddenly a truck full of wet furniture and wood scraps passed me by from the right corner of the flooded street. The driver told me they were evacuating and saving what was left of their house. I felt the shivers in my bones. Flashback of floodwater during Ketsana in September 2009 came back. In spite of fear, I continued to move forward in the sea of floodwater since I need to take a close relative to her church for a conference this week. As itt turned out, her church became an instant evacuation center the next morning.
On Tuesday morning, flood water in Marikina River reached over 20 meters high, two meters above the "critical" level, and it continues to rise. I immediately turned the TV on and my three children cheered with joy upon learning that they won’t have school today. On the other hand, their smiles turned into awe and sadness at the sight of flooding and evacuees on TV. Then my youngest son, Gian Paolo, prayed this morning before breakfast: "Please Lord, don’t let the flood-stricken ones die".
Our hearts sank, and we decided to go out and see what’s happening outside. I decided not to bring a vehicle and just walked through the rain around Kalumpang village to assess the flood situation in our neighborhood while my wife tagged along to buy food. She uttered; “God please spare our community,” as we witnessed the river push up against the banks and nearby houses. People lined the river banks on the lookout for final signs to evacuate. A neighbor, Dixie Samson, said: “We are afraid about another Ketsana destroying our properties. Although we were not able to sleep yet, we are waiting along the banks of this river for a definite sign to let go and let God.” Dixie lives near the river’s edge, and she lost nearly everything during Ketsana. A number of people stayed put in the second and third floors of their houses as the waters continued to rise, afraid of leaving their homes amidst the danger.
We also witnessed some people who were stranded on the second floor of a church. I was thankful to learn that no one was carried away by the strong currents yet in Marikina, but danger remains. As we continued to walk, we met a vendor who walked three miles away from his home to sell bananas so that his flooded families will have rice to eat. He said he left his children and family on the second floor of their neighbor’s house in Masinag village which is already neck-deep in the flood waters.
Different villagers in Kalumpang waited and waded out in the streets, peeping from their windows on the second floor, and standing on rooftops because of the waist-deep water there. Water had already flooded their ground floors since Tuesday morning. In spite of the forced evacuation, they don’t want to leave their homes yet. They are just asking for food and water, trying to hold out for a few days.
As we made our way home, we saw people starting to line up in the rain outside a small store in Marikina to buy food. In all of this, we continued to pray for safety for others who are affected by the floods as we walked back to our own home just a stone’s throw away from the battered Marikina river.