The Havoc of Habagat

If you’ve noticed I’ve been awfully quiet for the past fews days, its mostly because of the craziness that has happened here in Manila. Perhaps some of you have experienced it yourself or have read or seen it in the news, but here’s my story.

For almost two weeks, Manila and other nearby areas have been experiencing so much rainfall. Given we’re a tropical country, rainfall is nothing new, in fact we’re smack in the middle of the rainy season, which happens from June-October.

But what happens when you have non-stop rains happening for 9 days?

It results into this:

It all started Monday night, August 6. It has been raining for almost a week in Manila and the rest of Luzon. Typhoon Gener has already wreaked its havoc up north of the Philippines with its strong winds. It was a typical rainy Monday. I had plans to do my usual yoga routine after work when dad said not to go anymore to class and head home instead because PAGASA (the Philippines’ weather bureau) raised the alarm on the amount of rainfall that will fall on the city. I chose not to argue and go home early instead and skip class just for that night.

Going home was an ordeal, rain was heavily pouring on the journey home and my dad was calling everyone to go home. We have learned by our past experiences with Typhoon Ondoy back in 2009 not to take rainfall lightly.

It was a sleepless night. The rains were falling tirelessly in heavy drops, just like it was back in 2009. We were closely monitoring the flood situation level in the village since we were very prone to flooding on a big rainfall-heavy storm. We sent out one of the cars out of the village to park in a safe area outside the village, but the flood waters were slowly coming in. We also bought some supplies to keep and brought up important items like our rice sack and extra water.

We woke up the next day, August 7 still to heavy rains. Schools have declared no classes and even my own office cancelled work. The floods have reached gutter-level outside the house, which meant it was deep at the gate of the village.

This photo was taken at around 8am at the house

All day we brought up the furniture and other items at the ground floor just in case anything happens. We started calling tow truck services to get the cars. Our Montero (an SUV) could still pass through the waters so we decided to bring it out. We knew from experience that flood waters won’t subside soon so when the tow trucks for the cars came, we rode the cars so we would be able to get out. Unfortunately only the Cruise was able to be transferred safely out that first night.

Mom, my sister and myself were the first to get out of the house. We checked in at a nearby hotel in the city to spend the night. My dad, brother and youngest sister came next at around two am. They actually had to get out via a boat from the Pasig Fire Department. Good thing we had cars available to get around.

We spent the next day with relatives and later on got a temporary condo unit in the city for us to stay since we were back to work the next day. Manila was a ghost town the next day with a lot of people stuck at home because of the floods. Its either they got flooded or they couldn’t go out since the highways or roads they regularly pass are flooded.

Slowly things are returning back to normal. Unfortunately just like Ondoy, our village is still flooded due to poor drainage system in our area. As I write this, I am currently back in our village to rest since I’ve been running fever, colds and cough for the past few days and took this opportunity to rest first at home since we were able to go home using the Montero. It might take a little while for the waters to get out.

Now what happened? Again this is is due to excessive amount of rainfall that fell in the country. As a matter of fact, this is not even a storm or typhoon, just your typical monsoon rains.

Here are some differences from the 2009 flooding:

There was actually more rainfall that happened versus Ondoy. Water levels in Marikina, where the flood hit went over than what happened before. It also covered a larger amount of area, spanning areas of the Southern Tagalog region and Central Luzon, where previously wasn’t hit.

However, I think Ondoy was much worse because:

  • it happened only in a short amount of time. From experience, the water levels increased dramatically over a span of 6 hours. In this years flooding, the waters rose over a longer period of time, giving people more time to evacuate.
  • Personally, the waters levels were lower inside the house. In Ondoy, the water covered our ground floor. Now, it didn’t make it inside the house.
  • People are better prepared this time. And people learned from experience. At the first alarm, a lot of people already evacuated their homes and moved to safe areas. The death toll wasn’t as high. It wasn’t shocking to a lot of people, except maybe those who didn’t really experience Ondoy before.
  • Government was better equipped. After Ondoy, a lot of government offices got rubber boats for rescue operations and I think this helped a lot.
  • People mobilized better. As early as Tuesday, civilians were reaching out to do relief and rescue operations.

Just another one for the books. I do hope government learns its lesson once again to focus on better urban planning for the city.

Thank you for your prayers!

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