The Long Walk Home (3 of 3)

Indeed the immediate area near our place was pitch black with occasional candles lit. What was surprising was the activeness of a lot of people past that time of the night. Something definitely wasn’t right. And I’m not yet talking of the knee-length water on the streets yet.

Why did things have to be hard for the past 24 hours?

Warm Coffee, Please

My wrist watch read some minutes before 2 AM when I reached home and found my wife scooping out water using a dustpan. Water in the streets were starting to rise. They said that with the dams releasing water to ease out the pressure within its walls, it was only a matter of time before water would enter the houses.

In the midst of the frustration, all I wanted was just a nice hot cup of coffee. I was cold and wet from the experience starting from the morning that I just needed to warm a bit.

Lo and behold, there was no cooking gas! Thankfully a well-meaning neighbor offered a cup of hot water or I would have blown to bits then. A few sips of coffee was all I needed to break off from the mounting chaos.

Who Needed Weights Anyway?

Then it was on to lifting stuff. My wife understandably could only do so much in carrying up stuff to the second floor of the place. Important documents, food, medicine and other such lighter articles. All while checking on the kids and the water level outside from time to time.

Thankfully I reached home with just the right amount of time to allow me to move the heavier ones to higher ground. So while she was scooping water and all, I was moving appliances– TV, washing machine, dryer, ref, microwave– to the second floor. The situation didn’t afford me to take my time doing so because water was rising fast outside. I had to help my wife then.

A few minutes later, I relieved her from the chore as she made a last swoop of things to move upstairs in preparation for water coming in. It was only a few inches before the waters outside breached the level of the apartment entrance outside. It was routinary in the first minutes then tiring the next minutes that followed. Neighbors from nearby households were doing the same just to keep the water from filling their places.

It looked like fighting a losing battle when the rise of water outside went on. It was one thing to keep seeping water from accumulating; it was another to have water gushing inwards.

Here it comes

A few minutes before 3 AM when water broke through. We left the scooping chore when it happened. It covered the floors at first before rising slowly. It turned from a question of whether water would get in to how much we’ll get inundated.

I gave up and had to lie down somewhere upstairs. Water was rising anyway and there’s nothing much we can do for now. My wife took watch downstairs as I rested while waiting for the water level outside to recede. Then there will be clean up.

As I was lying, I recalled how lucky I was to be there. It definitely wasn’t a joke but it wasn’t that hard to figure out in some sort of a mishap in that day’s worth of hardships either.

My sister-in-law arrived with her daughters by the time I was getting sleepy. It was waist-deep in their house when they left from what I heard. She and my wife was talking about stuff when I actually fell asleep.

The next thing I knew it was already morning. It was a gloomy but definitely a welcome for one who had to spent that night awake. My wife told me that it went up to knee-level inside the house before the waters stopped rising outside.

The Aftermath

It was clean-up that morning. Scooping out water, washing and disinfecting stuff and scrubbing, disinfecting floors and placing back moved appliances were in fashion among households then. We had the place clean by afternoon.

We were not without damages. Luckily ours were relatively minor ones. Apart from our water pump, we saw a TV rack, a corner cabinet and some minor articles thrown away.

We had to wait until Monday afternoon for electricity though. Prior to it being restored, I had to actually content myself with reading (and actually finishing) Freakonomics and cigarettes.

It was so much a welcome to have electricity back as my daughter needed to be nebulized regularly because of asthmatic attacks starting from that Sunday. And there was definitely so much the lack of electricity hampers. It was only then that I got to inform people elsewhere that we were alright here. It was the signal to have us organize the smaller stuff around the house. It was also only then that we got to see TV news coverages of the extent of damage the typhoon brought.

Despite what I had to go through, it would be modest to say I’m still lucky. It was all over for us in a matter of hours but not so for other people even after some days. We were affected, yes, but a lot of other people were even more devastated. Among others, we had water inside the house but a lot of other people had to deal with mud. We didn’t have to deal with more than knee-length flooding inside the house. We didn’t have to wait for more than around 2 days to get electricity back.

I’m quite sure my story doesn’t even register a blink among the rough snapshots others had that fateful day.

The whole ordeal had me missing work for 2 working days in the week that followed. That was all the time I needed to get myself back in condition.

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