As I write this blog post, a large swathe of Metro Manila is still submerged in flood waters. In other areas of the metropolis, power lines and Internet connections are still down.
I have lived the early part of my life in the province where typhoons are extraordinarily strong and ruthless, but the floods that they bring normally subside just a few hours after hitting town. This recent flood brought by Typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana), however, is something that I've never seen before.
Ondoy's devastation is absolutely unprecedented...two-storey-high waters, cars piled on top of each other, scores of dead people, collapsed structures, etc. I thought I could only witness these terrible scenes on a Hollywood movie or in a comic magazine. As in every recent disaster, modern technology has again played a prominent role in keeping the populace abreast with widespread destruction. A large part of these videos and images came from the victims themselves who posted them in Facebook and YouTube. Here are some dramatic images they've uploaded:
Facebook has also become a venue for finding information on where to make donations, relief operations, emergency hotlines, and disaster preparedness. What a great tool you've created, Mark Zuckerberg.
According to the state weather bureau, the amount of rainfall last Saturday equaled the volume usually expected for an entire month. Ondoy dumped 455 millimeters rain, surpassing the country's previous high of 344 millimeters recorded in June 1967. Also, in comparison, Hurricane Katrina brought "only" 250 millimeters of rain in the U.S.
In the past, it's usually the urban poor who suffer the brunt of a typhoon, since most of their homes are usually located along the riverbanks or made of light materials. This time around, even the rich residing in gated villages were not spared from the destruction set upon by Mother Nature.
The national government, as well as local town officials, have taken the heat for the poor evacuation of the victims in the flood's aftermath. But, I doubt if the great deluge would have prepared those guys anyway.
It is in times of crisis, however, that we get to hear acts of heroism that are rarely displayed nowadays. Aside from small donations that people are chipping in to help those whose properties have all been swept away, there are stories like this that make you believe there are still heroes living in our midst.
Although the scale of this disaster is greater than what the Philippines has experienced so far, the spirit of the Filipinos will soar once again and, sooner than anyone can ever expect, we'd be on our feet again.