October 02, 2006

In The Aftermath

Typhoon Milenyo left the country’s southern Luzon region in deep quagmire. It was really all so unexpected. The papers and the TV coverage have been constantly updating us of news about the devastation wrought by this silent creep.

My roommate was already heating up the water for her bath on that ill-fated Thursday morning. At 5:30, I was awakened by the beep of my phone. My boss (Ms LV) has sent a text message that work has been cancelled for the day. I went to knock on the next room where my other colleague was also getting ready for work. I sent back a message to Ms LV that I have already cascaded her message. To which she replied that we first make sure that no deliveries are pending. Oh well, “might as well change”, they said. Vans have already queued up at the gate the night before for that day’s delivery. There were three of us at the laboratory that morning. Our carton supplier came to visit to talk about aligning GC evaluation tests for the materials they are supplying to us. Whew! We were amazed they came despite the torrential downpour. They waited out the heavy rains and left just before the second lashing came.

It was so disconcerting listening to the wind first whistle then growl outside and watching the rains pummel our walls as trees gave out and GI sheets were whipped around like weightless paper. The roads were strewn with a lot of litter and tree branches. Power went on and off until our Engineering staff finally decided to suspend the genset support. We went outside as the rains began to settle.

There's a tree that fell right in front of our lab.

No wonder we had interrupted power. The roof to our power plant was torn open a quarter of a way in and there was one rolling door slashed open. But they immediately attended to it to give us power by mid-afternoon. Power is important since our water supply also depended on it.

We began walking back to the staffhouse by 12:30 and ran almost half of the way as the rains started pouring in again. Good that we had a stock of food enough for a group of ten (yes, we are one big happy family there). But first, the staffhouse had to be cleaned up first. Water has reached ankle deep inside at the first floor. The rains whipping up against the walls upstairs (where us staff are staying) have slowly found their way down, dripping through the open banisters and stairs.

Two of us (Q of the Barbie-Q duo... peace Kwin!) busied ourselves in the kitchen with luncheon preparation while the rest of the group swept/ mopped/ and cleaned up the floors. Everyone was so hungry by the time we finished. Then we all had our fill of the meager fried dried pusit and luncheon meat and cream crab and corn soup afterwards washed with ice-cold Coke.

We were fortunate to have power inside our company compound. But since the cable lines were down, we could not even watch TV. There was no internet because the phone lines were out, too. Cellular phones were our only link outside. We heard there were many areas inundated by the floods. Later did I realize the extent of the damage outside.

I had to leave early the next day (Sep. 29, Friday) for an early flight home to Iligan as it is our fiesta there. I was saddened by what I saw along the way. There were a lot of uprooted trees as I passed the South Luzon Expressway. There were billboards toppled over. And to think that the eye of the storm was not in our area yet. I wondered what could be the plight of those hardest hit by Milenyo?

photos courtesy of Reuters and Russian Pravda News

Now, several days after the typhoon, the death toll has risen from the floods and landslides and accidents caused by being hit by falling debris or getting electrocuted. Yes, one may read more into this situation politically and ecologically or environmentally, but I think the first task at hand is getting things back in order. I know for a fact that things may not all get back to how they were before. A lot of lives have been lost. A lot of damage have been made on crops and livelihood. Several infrastructures have been ruined. It may not be too much to ask that political rivalry and differences be set aside for the meantime and let us join hands in helping out. And now, as our lives are slowly going back to normal, I ask that we pray for those of our countrymen who have been left in desolation and try to help in any small way we can.

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