I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

07 August, 2012

"The flooded"

     That is what my four year old says when I turn on the news on TV.  Born in 2008, the child has come to view "flooded" as a common occurrence but outside of her dear "Sanna Rowza" (I blame cartoons for the accent. I have taken to saying Santa Rosa like a Mexican would just to correct this). 

   But I am not trying to be funny today. If I try, it's to make up for lack of sunshine, and because of the sad and anxiety-inducing videos on all the local news channels this morning. It's been raining for too long, and the Marikina river is nearing 20mm as I type.  I feel so much for the people on roofs, for people watching the water rise from the windows. I remember the dread.  It's what got us to finally move out of where we were, and to this place.

    In 2008, when my child was just 3 months old, the creek that runs behind our apartment overflowed for the first time since we moved in in 2002.  In 2002, right before we moved in in September, there was a warning.  The first floor guest toilet had silt around its drain.  Our neighbor's driver welcomed us to the village by telling us how snakes and creatures had flowed through from the rear to the front in the past.   So for the next three years, there were efficient dredging operations right before the no-fail 1st week of September flooding on that street.  The flood never entered the houses and were not due to the creek. It always receded quickly so people were complacent.  Until 2007.

   Actually our warning came in September 2007, right when I conceived.  We came home from a trip away to find our garage with silt.  The cat's dishes were everywhere, my "outside slippers" were separated. One was gone, the other was somewhere far.  Clearly, the garage had flooded.  It happened the day before our arrival.

  It was then I learned from helpers that the first week of September ALWAYS saw a flood on our street.

  Fast forward to September 2008. I nervously watched from the window as the water level on the street rose.  My then 3 month old baby was nursing quietly. It was 6pm.  Baby at breast*, I inspected the emergency exit grills, figuring out how to get out on to the garage roof. And from the roof, would there be a boat? I called my dad in a panic, asking about how to ask for a 6x6 truck from the military. I was that afraid.

  It was too dark by then to see the creek from the other bedroom.  But I heard the water raging and when I shone a flashlight on it, it was horribly high. My husband then hollered that water was entering our back door!  I tossed him the big synthetic-fabric "Ilocos" blanket as he duct-taped the door bottom.  The water that entered was then filtered! It was unbelievably clear.   We shut the power off, quickly grabbed the bread and water bottles for my baby to take upstairs.  By then my baby was asleep in her crib.  I looked out the window to the next door neighbor's house and saw their helpers frantically mopping up water in their dining room too.  But why was their power still on?!

  Meanwhile the helpers out on the street were cheerful, laughing. I felt so helpless, as I felt they did not know water was coming in from the creek. 

   To this day I am so grateful the water reached only my tsinelas.  My feet did not even get wet. 

    And the next year, by January, we made the decision to move.  Not due mainly to the flood, but as we learned by Ondoy 2009, a truly good move we were blessed to have been able to make.

*An aside:  This situation made me 100 times more grateful than I already was about breastfeeding.  Contamination-free, and available anytime unless mom is under extreme stress from the conditions.  I was surprised my baby quietly nursed that evening all while I moved about stressing over the flood. She slept just as well, more soundly than usual in fact.  My husband and I went about cleaning up the portion of the first floor in the dark, and having pizza delivered while she slept.

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