Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ondoy's Onslaught (A Detailed Account of my Marikina Experience)

It was 12 A.M of that day that my sister and brother-in-law had just arrived from their trip in Iloilo (attending a wedding). They had come home late because their Pajero would not start leaving them no choice but to ride a taxi home. In such case, they had also left the more heavy belongings they had brought from the trip in the airport as well.

By 10 A.M., I woke up last Saturday morning to go out of the room and see my two nieces running around outside of the house with the pouring rain and the flooded surroundings. We even freed our pet janitor so he can roam around the wider aquarium (more of a pond, if you ask me).

By 1 P.M., the water started to enter the house and was rising at an unexpected rate. Instead of seeing clear rain water, it grew murky and muddy. So we went in the house to secure all the non-flood proof things we owned. The first thing we did was remove all the plugs from the sockets to avoid further damage. Things at floor level were placed on the dining table, the very long yet empty aquarium and the beds.

We initially had setup the all the important appliances such as the refrigerator, two or three feet above the floor approximately a meter above the ground. Some appliances were still at a higher level but the water still kept on rising. It came to a point that the water was already reaching the bed. Afraid that the things placed on the mattress would get wet; my brother-in-law started looking for cans or things we could use to elevate the bed posts. He sorted two DVD casings and ice cream cans.

He also turned the main switches of certain partitions of the houses so we can avoid getting electrocuted. Outside the house, the helpers had freed the dogs from their cage. By the time the water was entering through the window, I checked out why one of our dogs was whimpering and found her trying to hang on with her front legs stuck on the top of the gate. As much as I wanted to help her, I had so much to do inside.

My two nieces were already scared. The littler of the two started to cry because she got so scared. Before which she was praying so fervently because I asked her to. The other one had told me that the car that was parked outside our gate had moved closer to us when a vehicle had passed our street. Indeed it did.

At this time the refrigerator we had placed on the top of the table was starting to wobble. I was inside the other room when my brother-in-law called out for help because the refrigerator was starting to "float" and he was supporting it so it won't topple down hard. We finally decided to have it float horizontally at the risk that all its circuits would get fried-more accurately "souped".

Upon realizing the graveness of the situation, my brother-in-law started carrying the TV, the computer, the toaster, and majority of the appliances towards the room, placing it on the top most cabinets of the house inside each room. He even asked me to help him in putting them on those spots which was more than six feet above our floor. I remember the chair I was stepping on beginning to float the moment my weight shifted away from it. I could also never forget my arms and knees weakening when we were placing the TV on the top-most shelf. It felt extremely heavy.

On the other room, we were able to communicate with the helpers through a window. Manang Femy was trying to place some of the important stuff in the kitchen in one of the metal shelves when it started to float. The floating caused an imbalance breaking the glass window. Luckily my quick hand brother-in-law caught one of its braces before it could topple down Nang Femy. I was so concerned on how he was holding it through the broken window. He may have been wounded because of the pointed glass shards that had stuck to the metal structured window.

By 4 P.M., the water was already almost chest level and we decided to leave the place already before we get stuck. There was difficulty in just opening the door because of the strong current. Our big male neighbors had come to help us out so we could transfer to the house just a block away with a 2nd floor.

Before we left, I saw my brother-in-law tossing one of the dogs on the roof (Yes, TOSS!) saying something like "I'm sure that'll do”. He also secured the other two dogs on the mango tree. We went out of our gate and held on to a rope they had tied so we can cross safely.

When we arrived there, we found a lot of our neighbors as well cramped like sardines in the wet terrace. We were extremely lucky that they had welcomed us in their house. Until now, I still feel that we couldn't thank them enough.

Once all of us were safe, brother-in-law helped the others in helping our other neighbors- a family with a white puppy spitz, a crying kid's mom, and two kids with their yaya on the corner of the street not answering their gate. I was actually able to video the rescue operation of Team Del Carmen (as I brand them). He also went back to the house to double check on the animals. The water had reached near the top of the love bird's cage, so he raised it up to keep them safe (Unfortunately, one out of the two pairs had died). He was able to spot the inside of the house to see that the aquarium was already partially leaning towards the dining table. We were expecting that by the time we came back, it would've have shattered into a million pieces (Thank God, it was still on top of its frame by some miracle. Though this time, it was lying horizontally already.).

The funniest moments I had encountered was when they were trying to raise the morale of an older woman who was no longer able to place her foot on the ground to walk towards the house because the water was more than 6 feet above the ground. One of the guys was shouting, "THINK POSITIVE. WALANG AAYAW!" There was also an instance that I heard a big splash just to overhear later that one of them dived the murky water to which he attempted to swim too. It painted a mental picture those kids that loved to swim the public rivers for fun.

Aside from their shelter, this family was even willing to share their food with us. Of course, women and children had first dibs and I was so concerned about the big guys because some of them were unable to eat. Good thing our neighbor’s rice cooker wasn't wet.

By night time, all were extremely tired. The kids were lucky because the 2nd floor had a room and a bed where they were allowed to stay in. But the older people stayed outside, waiting for the flood to subside. I remember the specific markers they were waiting for: the number 7 on the metal sign of the house, the hollow block lines painted on the gate across the street and the roof of the blue car which was not visible for a long time.

The water started to subside by 7 P.M. slowly. By 9:30 P.M., my brother-in-law and my sister decided to go down even when the water was still above waist level. After some minutes, I was also called so we could start cleaning the house. Within the next four hours, we tidied the room as best as we can. Mopping, scrubbing, and clearing the place as much as possible was our main goal so that we could sleep even for a short while. The thick heavy mattress was brought outside. A partially wet two-inch foam was placed on partially cleaned queen-sized bed covered with a mantle taken from the top storage and some plastic cases to prevent the wetness from permeating the bed sheet we placed last.

By 4:30 A.M., I and Lanie went back to the neighbors to pick up the kids and thank them for their hospitality. It was 5 A.M. of the Sunday following Ondoy's onslaught that we were able to lie down on the bed and get some super quick shut eye knowing that that morning, we would have to do a lot of cleaning.

Slept for two hours when I had to wake up because my boyfriend, worried as he was arrived to check our status- bringing canned sardines and Century Tuna (bless his little heart for worrying about me). Anyway, this is it for now. Will probably be adding more soon.

Videos- to follow because I don't have an Internet Connection at home. Had to go to a cafe to post this.

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