Thursday, June 26, 2008

Typhoon in Iloilo!

Finally, I have reached Ms. Bing, the original writer of the email on the devastation wrought by Typhoon Frank in Iloilo on June 21. She has given Barangay OFW her permission to publish her email forwarded to me by Sister Fidelisa Portillo, SPC.

Sister Fidelisa is a Paulinian nun whom I have known since the 1990s when she was the Directress of Claret College in Basilan, an island province near Zamboanga. The email account below is in mixed English, Tagalog, and Ilongo.

from Sister Fidelisa Portillo <>
date Jun 25, 2008 7:43 AM
subject Typhoon in Iloilo!

Dear Carmel,

I would like to share with other OFW's the writer's first-hand experience.

In Christ,

Sister Fidelisa

Hi, guys,

The sun is shining now though it's still cloudy. Only a few reported to the office. Some of them were able to take alternative routes to reach the city. They will have to leave early this afternoon though. The rest who have not shown up are typhoon victims, around 15 of them. That's in our department lang.

Some of them don't know what to do, their clothes are gone, even their uniforms. Their houses are in shambles... furniture, fixtures, appliances damaged or swept away. Some don't even have their cellphones with them. Their vehicles are either totally submerged or can't be found. It must be in fields, or ditches or heaven knows where.

After lunch, I got a call from our group head for Visayas. She wanted me to use the facilities of the province to reach our Kalibo and Boracay branches. It seems that our Kalibo branch's computers were all destroyed. She's quite desperate, but she can't reach anybody there. I had to remind her that cellphones are powered by electricity, and with no power for the last 3 days, the phones won't work.

I told her the water came in so fast, in seconds.. minutes... there was no time to prepare. And on Saturday (June 21) , everybody was already under water. Ferdy, of our Jaro branch, was called to take care of the Jaro branch because it was leaking. When he got back to his house only the rooftop can be seen. It was a good thing a neighbor was able to pull his mom to the roof.

I was indirectlly telling her nga unahon pa ina ang bangko when they also have to attend to their families.

Our group head told me to check the alternate routes to Kalibo. I told her hundreds of vehicles are stranded. I told her I was already in touch with the national defense, two radio stations, and the provincial capitol and they're all saying the same thing. Don't attempt to go because the roads are still not passable.

Si Manny tinak-an siguro, ato naglakat gid..nag-alsahanay boses na sila nga duha. I told our staff that before we take care of others, we have to take care of our own. So this morning, we sent out our vehicle and 4 staffers to try to reach ang mga upod namon diri with dry t-shirts, water, and food.

Merly, our secretary, called me last Saturday. She was perched on her bed (her house is elevated), looking out of the window with water creeping up until it reached her chest. She was asking for help from the governor to rescue her and her neighbors. I didn't have the governor's number but i had that of his son, Jun-Jun, the congressman. I also tried to reach their mayor and his staff, and also the landbankers in Pavia. I couldn't get through so i called the radio stations.

Wilma, another staff member, had been calling for help since 10 a.m. Their house has a second floor though. Wec tried to go out of his house to help Wilma and her family. But he said what happened to him was just like something he watched in the movies. He had to outrun a wall of water higher than his vehicle.

Gali, Providence Subdivision had to tear down its wall because water kept on rising and the houses inside the subdivision were getting submerged.

Ric was on top of his roof with his family. The Janiuay Hospital in front of his house was submerged in water. The hospital staff were able to pull out the patients, one of whom died because she got disengaged from the oxygen tank. All the hospital equipment were damaged.

Our two Bongs' houses were also inundated with water. They only had time to save themselves and their family. Keith of our Plaza Libertad branch got down from the rooftop just early this morning. She thought her grandparents were goners. They were not able to climb to the rooftop. She found them inside the house, cold and hungry but alive. Their wooden beds floated around the house during the flood.

Erp's vehicle was crushed by a mango tree. Another officemate had to destroy his roof in order for his family to climb up.

Always, when daw maguba na ang kalibutan sang warning nila sang bagyo, wala man bagyo. This time, Capiz was signal no. 1 only. Iloilo, no signal at all 'coz the typhoon was supposed to graze only parts of Samar.

I was up till 1 a.m. on Friday night (June 20) and it was not even raining. When i went to bed, it had started to rain, but then I was dead to the world after that. When I woke up, it was raining and there were gusty winds. I thought of my seedlings of oregano and thyme and I thought I'd shelter them.

I was horrified when i looked out of the window and saw that the water on the ground was already high. I asked if it rained hard the night before. George remarked, daw maguba na kalibutan, wala ka imo kahibalo.

But as far as storms go, this is nothing. The wind was not that strong. Iloilo has experienced typhoons far, far worse than this. Which is why it was an utter shock for me when I turned on the radio at 1 pm nga grabe na gali ang situation in the city and Pavia. By 3-4 pm, a lot of calls were coming in asking to be rescued. We were caught flat-footed and we were really not prepared for this. It was each to his own.

Even the radio reporters felt bad. There really was no way to get to those who needed to be rescued. Just listening made you also feel bad. Each town knew they're on their own. Roads were under water, bridges had collapsed. The city was able to borrow 10 jet skis, some rubber boats and two pump boats. 7 pm pa lang, naguba na ang pump boats.

The family of Mayor Treñas was rescued out of their house at past 10:30 pm. Big boys are not supposed to cry, but several mayors were crying, their voices breaking! Out of helplessness at the overwhelming cries for help nga wala man sila mahimo.

Vivian called the Disaster Coordinating Center to help her sister in Alta Tierra but she was told that there's nothing more they can do at the moment.

The sugar central in San Enrique had 10 feet high of water, tunaw ang sugar. The NFA warehouse, flooded ang sacks of rice nga bag-o lang na deliver. For the first time ever, would you believe, the road from SM City up to the Marina had waist-high water?

A lot of people, among them, one of George's med reps spent the night at SM City. It became an evacuation site of sorts sang mga surrounding baranggays.

SM opened their food court area and the canopy and stairs to accommodate people. And they had to close the malls yesterday and today.

School will resume on Wednesday. Now, there's cleaning up. Nagakaubos pala diri. The mud can't be rid of by just hosing it down. Sobra 1 foot ang thickness sang mud.

Worse, some areas will take 4 to 5 days for power to be back. Ang area Jaro up wala pa water coz the water pipes from Maasin are broken. Wala ni rich or poor subong sa areas affected. All of them are buried in muck. Delia, my sis -in law, had water reaching her 2nd level. All appliances went under water.

Carla, another officemate, thought, anaw na. The cameras of GMA-7 are still in her house. The GMA-7 people were caught by the flood and their service vehicle parked outside her house was soon under water. She and her children were eating in their garage when a neighbor passed by. Nagpacomplacer siya mag-imbitar, ay nagka-on gid with her family. It turned out her neighbor had not eaten since the day before.

When you go around, you will see vehicles in the fields, sa mga canal sa higad dalan, may gasang-at sa kahoy, dead livestock (cows, pigs, etc) and mud everywhere...

But Iloilo will bounce back.

Copyright © 2008 to Barangay OFW. All rights reserved.

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