Flooding 101: Basic (How-to- Survive without a Trauma) Guides
The Traumas – Both in Children and Adults
I was about to enter the gate of my daughter’s school when I saw this kid covering his ears barely looking up. Her classmates have gathered around not knowing what to do with him. A man in a motorcycle, who happened to pass by saw the kid and worriedly walked towards him saying “ he has a trauma of severe flooding”.
It turned out that the kid (about 7 years old) finds it hard to deal with darkening skies, thunder, lightning, and even drizzles. He fears everything that has something to do with flooding. I let out a deep sigh, thanking the Lord that my daughter did not have this kind of trauma, despite our own flood story in 2012.
This is not something new to us. Almost all families living in Metro Manila, here in the Philippines have their own stories to tell. Almost if not all, are traumatic. No one is spared from traumas. Life is precious regardless of age. Children and Adult alike can develop trauma with the same intensity, and it is sad that it can happen again and again.
As a result, we moved to a better place with no more flooding. Metro Manila is such a nice place but with recurring floods every JUN-AUGUST season, it has become a traumatic place for me. There was no typhoon, only monsoon rains and the statistics showed us that it killed 95 people, destroyed about 8,428 homes, and damaged 6,706 others bringing a total of at least ₱604.63 million (US$14.31 million) that year alone. Three years ago before Monsoon’s wrath took place, the city was ravaged by Typhoon Ondoy, known internationally as Typhoon Ketsana,killing 747 people dead and damaged around P1.09 billion of properties.
The fact that floods can happen anytime, even moderate rains should make us alert. Flash floods can hail from a mountain rain, bringing in speedy and forceful current to a wide body of water, mostly rivers. When rain would not stop even for a day, it will lead to more flooding.
I am writing this today with the hopes that we all learned from this recurring disasters that beset almost every place on Earth. I can't help remembering the victims who died and those who have lost all of their properties almost a year ago - August 7, 2012. Mine was a first-hand experience, so this personal guide is close to my heart, and l would like to share it to all of you. These are general information, but some items may or may not work in your area.
How to Lessen Traumas
- Always be ready. Prepare yourself and your family for any untoward incidents.
- Always maintain presence of mind. Clumsy-decision making can lead to loss of life.
- Be organized and flexible. Get insurance or any forms of assurance. Minimize risk for future expenses brought about by flooding.
- Bring boots and raincoats everywhere you go. (for moderate flooding only)
- For severe flooding. keep these five essentials at home – A ROPE, A WHISTLE, A FLASHLIGHT, A ZIP-LOCK PLASTIC BAG, AND A PLASTIC GALLON (see below how to use these things)
- Always do a one-on-one orientation with your kids. Tell them what to do in case flooding happens. The basic part is telling them what to do and where to go and see each other in case you get separated.
- Prepare instant foods. Canned goods are not advisable for everyday consumption, but a stock of these foods help you survive in case you get stranded. Make sure to store water in big containers.
- Listen to your local station every now and then for evacuation plans. Be in the know.
- Safety first. When rescuers come, go with them. Do not extend. Rescuers can only rescue one at a time. Do not worry about your belongings. Lock your house’s door and head towards the safest place. It would be hard for rescuers to do rescue when 90% needs help and rescuers can only cater to 10%. How’s that? It would be better to respond to their call as soon as possible, or else you won’t get that help anymore.
- In case water rises waist-deep, turn off main electricity switch to avoid getting electrocuted.
- Create a contingency plan within your household. Where to go, where to climb, and where to exit in case of rising water. An organized plan won’t create panic and everyone can follow where you are heading.
- It is not safe to stay inside the house when water speedily rises. It can drown you. It would be better to stay at the top floor and send signal for help.
- In case of a delayed help, observe your neighborhood and make a planned route ahead where to go for safety, as the floodwater starts to grow bigger.
It was everywhere!
SURVIVAL KIT - SUMMARY
A Zip-locked plastic bag for cellphone and medicine
A Bottled water
A waterproof flashlight
A Plastic container
Getting Ready with Flood Survival Kit
Get Your Family Ready at All Times
- A Whistle. Each one should have a whistle and synchronize a counter-signal, something that lets you recognize each other in case you get separated. In severely cold situation, whistle is best. Remember the Titanic movie when Kate Winslet lost her voice and had to whistle for help.
- A Rope. Prepare at least a three meter-rope, *the longer the better”. You can tie each other and promotes secure swimming against the flood.
- A Water-proof Flashlight. Flood is scary during daytime, but ten times scarier at night. With the help of a water-proof flashlight, you can find your way easily and can also call for help using the light. Learn the distress lighting signal by heart.
- A Zip-locked Plastic Bag. You can still hand carry one set of clothes, cellphone, medicine, and some important documents with a zip-locked bag without fearing that it‘d get wet.
- A Plastic Container. Any plastic container, even 4 pieces of 1 liter-gallon tied together can save you from drowning. Make sure not to lose the cap.
- A bottled water. You can survive days even without food as long as you have water.
Table of Comparison
Monsoon Wrath - Hagupit ni Habagat
8 days torrential rain - No typhoon
P604.63 Million ($14.31Million)
more than 24 hours heavy rain
Typhoon Ketsana - Lupit ni Ondoy
3 days *with typhoon
18 hours heavy rain
Source: Wikipedia and NDCC tally
Pay Attention to Infographics
Remembering 2012 Flooding: Bagsik ni Habagat (Monsoon’s Wrath)
"Lord, help us."
I whispered warily, as we were swimming fast against that strong flash floods which ravaged 90% of our city. The date was August 6, 2012, the day that I considered the most dreaded day in my life, as a mother.
It was past midnight, and we were still stuck in traffic brought about by heavy rains. I was calm and had the slightest hint of what was to come. I held on my daughter's arms, wishing that she could relax even when looking at the fast-rising water. I listened to my FM player as we walked amid the heavy downpour, and learned that a creek in Munoz (where we lived) had overflowed and caused severe flooding in EDSA (the main highway in Metro Manila) and Roosevelt Avenue (the street where we pass by every night going home).
We had to go home to that rented apartment. No choice, we don’t have any place to stay, being in a big city away from our original home. We were alright for about 15 minutes inside that small vehicle, until such moment that we have to swim to a safer ground, leaving that “Jeepney”, all submerged and wasted as we reached Roosevelt.
I hastily put my bag, with a laptop and her toys, in my left shoulder, while holding my daughter tightly with my other hand. Finally, we could not simply do it that way, and I had to carry her on my back. She was chilling, drifting wet, and horrified with what was going on. She was too young to complain, but too old to understand we were in deep trouble. Each time she whispered “Ma” with a stifled cry, it pained me. It was too painful that I had to let go of my own fear. She was taking all of her emotions from me. I could not add injury to the situation, by showing her a horrified mother;but deep inside, I wanted to give in to that fear that was enveloping my whole being. The truth was, I wanted to shout and frantically ask for help, but I remained calm; I knew it would frighten her even more.
While we were swimming in the middle of that deep murky water, I was blaming myself for dragging her into that mess. She could have been safer in our house, drinking a glass of milk, and put to bed early; but my pride was all over me, urging me to prove to her father that we can do fine without him.
Celine was 5 years old and was too young to be staying late at work. Yes, after his father left early in July, I brought her along to where I work and she stayed up late with me until 11 to 12 midnight every working day. Unfortunately, the timing was bad. A monsoon had hit the Metropolis bringing in torrential rains for about a week, which had culminated into a tragic incident that displaced thousands and even millions of residents in Metro Manila.
I thought it was not going to be so bad at all. The first three nights were bearable, except for that scary flashes of lightning and loud roar of thunder, but Celine held on and did not complain. She calmly tagged along with that yellow boots and yellow rain coat, occasionally grasping my hand tight with fear.
The fourth night was worst, wrapping us with terror. The rain did not stop even for a second, falling hard until the 5th day. That 48 hours was so crucial, and I had never been frightened my whole life than that fateful night. We were lucky to have been saved by a rescue boat and were brought home safe and sound. I thought that was it. I thought that the danger was over after getting home, but I was wrong.
We could not sleep. Celine was also up and anxious, looking at me with scrutinizing eyes, taking a hint from my silence. The flash reports in that popular TV channel told us how wide the flood was. The rain did not stop and I suspected it would never stop. I told Celine to stay in our room (we were renting a small room at a second floor of a small nursery school) and never ever go out. Celine whispered a hesitant yes with watery eyes. She was about to cry, but I explained to her that I had to go out to get some foods, so we would not starve. I honestly told her that sooner or later, that floodwater will be holding us stranded with no food for three more days. Luckily, she understood, but let a frown in her face.
Minutes later, I went out through the rain with tears in my eyes. I was so scared leaving her alone by herself. What if the flood would suddenly rise? and I would never find an easy route back home? How would I feel finding our room filled with water with Celine out of sight when I get back? It was not a remote possibility, as this was the second time that the whole city submerged.
It sent me chills down my spine remembering how many people died trying to get back home in 2009 with Typhoon Ketsana (Known locally as Ondoy). I knew my skill in swimming was not enough, but I’m worried more about Celine. I could blame myself forever, if something happened to her, but we couldn't die in hunger.
Lightning and thunder were everywhere.I imagined, it had frightened my daughter to the very core. I left her, but deep down I was shaking. I told myself we could get through. The worst part was the thought that his father, an Air Force Standby Reserve, has served the nation in many calamities, such as flood and fire. Celine could have been safer with him and I could have been more relaxed, as I knew he would volunteer to get food for us. I had a lot of regrets that night, but at the same time, the situation called on for more courage not regret. I had to be strong for the two of us to survive.
After getting more than what we need from a 24-hour convenience store, I hurriedly paced back home. My body shaking all over. I thought I could fly in haste, if only I had wings. I knew I was out for so long, too long for Celine to keep her own bravery at bay. The water was waist-deep, and I could hear more sobs of fear from women I met along the flooded street. I was happy I made it before it went neck-deep, just like three years ago. As I opened the door, I could not help but cry seeing her all in sweat, face down the pillow. tucked under the bed sheet, and too afraid that she had slept on a position like that. I had let out all my feelings and dropped on the floor sobbing.
I cried hard for hours, until I felt relieved. I dressed up and took the other part of the bed, as I listened to that loud downpour and heavy winds gushing outside. Then, sleep visited me.
The morning after, the wind continued to lash the city, and thankfully, work for both public and private offices was suspended. I turned the TV off and monitored the flood through the Internet, so Celine would not see what was going on. I let her played the whole day, joining her every now and then, hoping to erase the bad memory of that fateful night.