Monday, September 28, 2009

The Day Ondoy Went To Town

I remember going to sleep Friday evening, the sound of the heavy rain gently lulling me to sleep, a persistent white noise. My thoughts turned to XS’s soccer field; if the rains continue unabated, the field will be unplayable again for the fourth Saturday in a row.

I woke up Saturday morning still hearing the same sound that lulled me to sleep the night before. Only now, the force of the water that pounded on our windows had a furious beat to it. Tropical storms, and the heavy rains and strong winds that come with them, are nothing new this part of the world, where there are about 20, more or less, typhoons and tropical storms that lash out at the country annually.

Moreso, PAGASA has only raised signal number one over the metro. I have a full day planned… pay a quick visit to the pediatrician, then off to buy a nice birthday gift for a friend whose son was celebrating his first birthday, head back home for the requisite afternoon nap ( for me, really, more than the kids), and then go to Makati for a kiddie birthday party at 4pm.

First off, bring B to the pediatrician to find a way to treat the rashes that have started to develop on her body. Initially, we all thought they were nasty mosquito bites until the spots started growing all over her body. Doctor said nothing to worry about, just rashes secondary to a viral infection. Viral exanthema, is what he called them.

I continued to go to Megamall to shop for the gift. Violent reactions were made by the 2 girls, who wanted to go to Shangri-la Plaza, instead. But I had a few errands to run, and no one can beat SM with the diversity of choices that their department store provides. As the mall’s slogan says… “we’ve got it all for you!” And they truly do!

There was a slight feeling of uneasiness as I saw the 2nd floor deck parking filled with numerous puddles. I remember thinking that the mall should have their flawed sewerage fixed. I hurriedly went about to do my errands, buy some hose nozzle and sprayer, new eco-friendly non-stick pans, muffin pans, yada-yada-yada. After lunch and doing the last task on hand, I finally noticed that the mall was missing its usual throng of shoppers.

While choosing a gift for the birthday boy in the toys department, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation that the two sales staff were having.

Girl 1: nilusob ko na ang baha kahit na hanggang dito ang tubig (points to her waist), buti na lang may dala akong extra na pampalit. Tuloy-tuloy ang ulan!

Girl 2: Naku! Bakit di pa nila tayo pinapauwi? May announcement na ba?

Hearing this exchange… Panic! Safely ensconced in the mall’s massive structure, we were ignorantly unaware of the fact that the storm had quickly dumped unusually high amounts of rainfall all over the whole of Metro Manila, and in fact, the whole Central Luzon island.

A few seconds later, I got a SMS from my friend informing me that they were postponing the birthday party. This SMS confirmed that the situation outside has gone worse, and that the best thing to do would be to head home ASAP!

Alas! What was normally a 30-minute drive along EDSA turned into a three-hour journey, as we negotiated the few remaining roads that were still passable. We made a few u-turns as we witnessed how the floodwater reach neck-high in certain areas.

We got home to find the house pitch-dark, owing to the electricity being cut-off since early afternoon. The emergency light in the stairs, although still working, was dimly lit, showing signs of its batteries shutting down anytime soon. No sooner had I climbed a few steps than the faint light went out completely, and I find myself walking in absolute darkness. Then I felt my steps grow heavy, and then heard the splish-splash as my feet walked. WTF! Is this rain water???

The OC-ness in me wouldn’t let this pass. Flashlight on hand, I hunted down the source of water. Turns out, water seeped in through an opening that was left by a vacated a/c at the third floor entertainment room. Water slowly cascaded down the third floor onto the stairs. The half-done renovation of the windows on the third and second floor landing contributed to the water leak, as well. And they all together formed a waterfall on our wooden stairs. Thankfully, the water that gathered inside the house is just rain water, and not flood water. Whew!

We would not know the full ramifications of the storm until the day after, when electricity has been restored and we are finally online to see the full effect of the damage that Ondoy has brought.

Still and all, we remain thankful that all we had to endure from this is tragedy is coming home to a dark house full of puddles. Our possessions remain intact, our family complete.

Psalm 46:1-3
God is our strength and refuge, a helper ever near.
While resting in His shelter, no evil will we fear—
Not if the mountains crumble into the angry sea,
Nor if the surging ocean exceeds its boundary.

photo credits: Flickr photos uploaded by Simon Meisinger, Erwin Jason Mendoza and Cha Mercado