11 years ago, a tropical storm unlike no other had swept through the Philippines and changed lives forever. It’s name was Ondoy (international name: Ketsana). In only 4 hours since the rain began to pour (and, oh, how it poured!), our house, which was around 1.5 meters higher than street level, was thigh deep in flood water. Some quick thinking had us inflating an airbed we kept around for some, then, unknown purpose, and had been assisted out of the house on it by well-meaning teen-aged boys from the neighborhood. Generous neighbors who had a 3-storey home took us in, along with another next-door family, until the next day, when 9-foot flood waters receded enough so we can go back to our washed out home. We are flood-hardy people, mind you, for our area is a catch basin of sorts, of water coming down the nearby mountains, but this was the most traumatic and worse flooding we had ever seen.
Until last week.
Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco) had come after typhoon Rolly (Goni), a category 5 super typhoon, and touted to be “the strongest storm in 2020”. Massive flooding came with torrential rainfall and destructive wind, with whole communities needing to be rescued from their rooftops because flood waters had engulfed their homes and all their property. Our family had been fortunate enough not to have been affected, which is surprising, to be honest. Towns nearby had been gravely affected, and though ours had been under water, as well, the highest level it had reached was 3 feet. 3 feet of water to the uninitiated would already be significant, but to us, flood-hardy people, we already consider ourselves fortunate that it had not been worse.
The anxiety and fear that these rains brought to us had already seemed insurmountable (because of our past experience with Ondoy), but imagine what it may have brought to those people on their rooftops, waiting for help, praying the rains stop so that the waters stop rising.
The cause of this tragedy leaves much for discussion: is it man-made? Could it have been prevented? Has government done enough to make sure these tragedies don’t happen? Are we, ourselves, to blame?
These questions have to be left unanswered, for now.
Today, all we can do is help each other.
The outpouring of support from institutions, private organizations and individuals is cause for both gratitude and sadness. We are happy that so many are coming forward to lend a hand, but also sad, that it had to take a massive calamity, where people’s lives and property were lost, for these efforts to come to fruition.
Here are some organizations through which you can course your donations, if you choose, and are capable, of giving:
Caritas Manila: Caritas Manila
Kaya Natin! Movement: (in partnership with the Office of the Vice President) Kaya Natin! Movement
Philippine Red Cross: Typhoon Ulysses
unicef: Typhoon Relief
We thank you in advance!