The 26th

Thousands of families are in numerous evacuation centers around the country at this very moment.  All in a helpless state.  Once with homes and basic needs within reach, now they only got the clothes they were wearing in that forsaken 26th day of September, 2009.  Some of them got lucky – the members of their own family are all alive.  And some were not – only one member was left to tell the nightmare.

The nightmare of those trying to get out of the window and reaching their rooftops so as not to drown.  The nightmare of carrying the young and the old away from the threatening flood waters.  The nightmare of watching people get swept away by the current while they were on their roof torn off their houses being carried off by the flood themselves.  The nightmare of seeing other people tumbling off their roofs and into the waters until they were gone.  The nightmare of spending the night on their roofs because rescue couldn’t get to them due to the danger of the currents.  The nightmare of having no one to call for help.  The nightmare of darkness befalling them the second time because they weren’t still found.  The nightmare of going hungry and cold and thirsty at the same time for more than twenty four hours.  The nightmare of seeing dead bodies, mostly of children, floating all around them when the sun comes up.  The nightmare of losing people you found and trying to desperately look for them.  The nightmare of finding their bodies kilometers away from their homes, bodies dangling on wires, bodies buried in mud.  But the nightmare doesn’t stop there.

The murky waters rose even if they were already on their roofs.  It was easy to see death was reaching out for them.  And when the flood couldn’t get too them, it got to their belongings.  All of which they kept in their homes.

The home of a Filipino is his haven.  This is where he keeps his treasures.  He pours all of his hard work and time in order to have his home suitable to his needs.  It is where he would rather be than anywhere else. It is where he lay out his plans and dreams until something like this happens.

After a disaster as extensive as this one, everything now is about survival.  The resources are now scarce to almost empty.  And victims are at the mercy of the volunteers and charity donations.  There’s no need to reiterate how hard it must be for the victims who was once self-reliant to be one of the most dependent of citizens at this moment.

After the heavy downpour and the flood it left the metropolitan, the Filipino was left with nothing but ruins.  Some of those were lucky enough to have the wrecked structure still intact in its posts.  But some were very unlucky to have seen their homes on the television being swept away by the torrents of the flood on that unforgettable day.

Thousands of families are now living on charity.  They are getting ill from living in crowded evacuation centers where there is not enough space to sleep, enough food to eat, enough water to drink, enough portalets to sit in when nature calls.  People are now infected with all kinds of diseases due to unhygienic causes.

Many people, those who were both affected and unaffected by the calamity tried to help.  But it will never sustain them.  The number of victims this big will end up unsatisfied, angry and may come to a point, become destructive themselves – due to frustration and helplessness.

Now, floods have subsided in some of the areas.  People are now starting to visit the home they left behind for their lives.  They are not only overwhelmed with the destruction that held their site but the stench that reached the depths of their stomachs.

Inches of mud covered the streets.  People have to walk for miles to get to their homes because some roads are still flooded and those that are not are covered with mud.  All types of vehicles have piled on top of one another.  It would be hard for someone to look for his own car that he left that day because it might have reached another part of town where the water carried it.  The only consolation was no one was inside the cars while they were carried by the flood or drowned by other cars during the 26th.

The victims who can afford are looking for a new home and are not coming back to restore their old ones.  But most victims are persistent to live in the same house as before.  They are pulling out the wrecked furnitures and trying to save them by washing off the mud.  But most of these furnitures end up in the streets.  Hence, the streets are piled up with hills of trash.

After paying a visit to some areas (while delivering some relief goods), there were more to throw than to save in the homes flooded that day.  Some fortunate streets were smelling of damp mud.  But the unfortunate ones smelled of death, not of human bodies but that of animals and even hundreds of domestic pests.

In the news today, there were cemeteries where there were no tombstones left and some bodies in the graves have gone missing.  It is only horrifying to think where they can be found now.

All Filipinos are affected one way or another even if no rainfall has dropped on their roofs that day.  The rehabilitation programs is going to costs more than when we are building the cities in the Metropolitan.  For the clean-up to be more effective, we have to get our hands dirty.  All are going to take part in the rehabilitation.

There is no doubt that Mother Nature was trying to drive a point.  If it is left ignored, another Ondoy may soon come and visit and may be more vicious than the first one.  Acting fast and acting conscientiously may be the only way to stop storms like this one. And recovery may not be out of reach.

The ways in which to live our lives should aim for higher ground.


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