Tuesday, July 5, 2011
A Night I Will Never Forget....
When I was in nursing school, I was deeply intrigued of the "fight or flight" phenomena. It amazed me how the human being's brain would take over the body's entire function and zone out, focusing on survival in order to get through a life-threatening situation. Never in a million years did I expect I would be smacked in a situation that would allow our most primal instincts to take over.
Last week, heavy rains brought about a flash flood in my city. Davao City, the city where I live, is one of the safest, most peaceful and practically disaster-free city in the country. But all of that was dispelled the night of June 28, 2011. At around 9pm, it started raining heavily. To me, this was nothing out of the ordinary since this is a tropical country and yes, it is the rainy season. It continued to pour heavily, nonstop, for two straight hours. I live near a creek, so we were starting to feel a bit uneasy about the heavy downpour because this could lead to one thing: flood.
It was a typical night and I was doing what I would usually do at night. I can still remember I was sitting in front of my computer, chatting with my friend, Thach, via this online game I was playing and watching TV on the side. Then, just like that, in a snap of a finger, my whole world was in utter disarray.
I could hear our neighbors rushing towards the street, carrying with them their children and their pets. I can hear them shouting and crying. That's when I knew the water in the creek has overflown. I hurriedly shut my pc down because I know it's time to put it in a safe place, high up where flood water wouldn't reach it. My sister was distressed because the flood had reached the level of our gate. That was not a good thing since her car was parked in our garage and if the flood rose any higher, it would reach her car and wreck the engine and the electronics. She hurriedly drove the car to higher ground. My dad was still on his way home at that time so we told him to park his car somewhere safe. It was such good fortune that my mother borrowed my car earlier that afternoon so we had one less car to worry about.
I was left in the house with our house-help and we started disconnecting all appliances and put them on high shelves, thinking the flood water would not reach past our waist. When my dad finally got home, my sister was still making her way back home. She called me, telling me that she was having a hard time treading the flood because it was already at waist level and the current was quite strong. This caused my dad so much worry that he decided to fetch her. Thank God he was able to reach her on time and got her home safely.
When they finally got back to the house, the flood water had started to enter the house via the drainage system, while the flood water from the outside was starting to creep into the house. We attempted to place some of our appliances at an even higher ground but it was a feeble attempt. Things happened so fast until such time, the water level inside the house was steadily rising at a really fast rate.
It dawned to us that things are going terribly downhill the moment the power was shut off to prevent electrocution. Our house was quite elevated, so I could imagine that the water level outside was pretty deep already. add the strong current, our doors were already shut tight, and we could not open it because of the strong pressure from the opposing forces between the current of the flood water outside and the water from inside our house.
The water would not stop coming in. Flood was rising at an alarmingly fast rate and if the water continued to rise at that rate, we would all be in grave danger if we stayed inside the house. We needed to go to higher ground. The moment my dad said we had to leave the house and all our belongings inside, I went numb. It was like, we have lost the battle, and bowed down to the flood. But there was no time to grieve over our losses, we had to seek shelter from the flood, we had to save ourselves from drowning. Since the doors were already shut tight, my dad had to destroy the screen of the screen door so that we could climb over it.
It was around 2am when we climbed our fence and made our way on top of the roof. When we left, I saw that our furniture and appliances were floating inside our house. We rushed out thinking of saving only ourselves that I was able to bring only my handbag and my cellphone, nothing else, same with my sister and my dad. We were up on our roof cold, tired, thirsty and traumatized. We had lost all our belongings, our clothes, the things that we have worked hard for. From above our roof, the sight was just devastating. The water reached to about 2-3 meters in depth. I could see how the flood raged on. The street no longer looked like a street, rather, it looked like a river with really strong current. I could see branches and debris drifting along with it.
Finally at nearly 5am, the water had subsided and was only about knee deep. As swiftly as it rose, the water receded at at equally fast rate. We immediately got down from the roof to release the flood water trapped inside the house so we can start cleaning up the mud. We didn't waste any time sitting or sleeping, we went straight to work and cleaned up the mess.
The aftermath was devastating. The house and all of its contents were all over the place. It was a mess. Everything was covered in mud. Our furniture, our appliances, our clothes, EVERYTHING, was covered in mud and some got washed out when the water started receding. It was heart wrenching to see the what the flood has done to us. What breaks my heart is the defeated look in my father's eyes the first time he set his eyes on our house. I wanted to cry too, but there was no time to wallow in grief. There was so much work to be done, and we can't waste any of our time or what's left of our strength wallowing in despair. Some of our immediate relations and close friends came by to help us out. I am so thankful to them, we could not manage to do the cleaning up alone.
Despite the hopelessness of the situation, all is not lost. There are some things we were able to save. First off, our cars were safe from the flood. It was sheer blessing that my sister followed her intuition and braved the rising waters and drove it to a safe place. And it was a blessed coincidence that my mother happened to borrow my car the afternoon of that fateful day.
Another is that my documents and my laptop were saved. I managed to put the documents at the topmost shelf in my cabinet before the flood, so they are all dry, readable and remains to be valid. On a last ditched effort, I grabbed my laptop and was able to place it at the topmost shelf on the cabinet that was close to the door where we exited on our way out of the house. I was planning to take it with me on the roof but I had to climb through the screen door and my hands were full, so I was most likely going to drop it so I decided to shove it on the top shelf and prayed to God the flood water would not reach it.
And most importantly, I am most thankful to God that my family and I are safe. None of us were seriously hurt or injured, save a few cuts and bruises from climbing up and down the roof but overall, we are in good condition. Our lives are much more important than all of our material possessions combined and doubled. As long as we are all together, we can rise up from this disaster we just faced.
Some were not as fortunate as we were. A lot of people had lost their belongings too, washed away by the raging water of the flood. There are some whose homes got ravaged and destroyed by the flood. And there are others who lost their loved ones in this terrible disaster. My heart and prayers go to them. I cannot begin to imagine the pain they are going through right now. Which makes me come to realize that what our family have lost is just a minute fraction of what other families have lost in the flood. Our ordeal is quite easier to get over as compared to what others are going through. Therefore, we are not that unfortunate, in fact, we are still quite blessed because all four of us are alive and well.
As of writing, we are still on the process of cleaning up and sorting out. It's quite a tumulus task, but I know in time, we would be done with it. Things will never be back to the way it used to be, the damage was quite vast and the experience was just way too distressing, but I'm hoping we can bring it as close to how it used to be and I pray that we can get past this whole ordeal. Life must go on.
**Photos lifted off from Mr. Roland Jumawan's Facebook Photo Album.....**