The events during the last weekend of September (from the 26th-27th) was something for the record books, as the country, and Metro Manila in particular, bore witness to what was probably one of the most severe storms that have ravaged the city in recent memory.
While there have been many storms in the past (especially the ones I can recall from way back) that have caused much damage to the city throughout history,the damage done by those typhoons was nothing compared to what Typhoon Ondoy (International name: Ketsana) in just a day or two. People say it was the worst flooding Metro Manila has experienced since the early 1970’s.
On a personal note, the last time I witnessed a storm caused this much damage was during the onslaught of Typhoon Milenyo (International name: Xangsane) three years ago. While Milenyo did not cause any major rainfall or flooding, its winds were strong enough to wreak havoc in the city, causing trees to uproot and billboards to crash down, claiming a lot of lives in the process.
Going back to Ondoy, the storm brought such severe flooding throughout the city that it singlehandedly caused the closure of South Luzon Expressway, something that was said to have last happened in the early 1970’s. Even areas that are normally less prone to floods found themselves sinking in knee-deep floods at the very least.
Countless vehicular and pedestrian underpasses became virtual basins of flooding, causing these thoroughfares to be closed for days before the large water-pumping vehicles managed to dry up these flooded parts.
It also managed to get vehicles and commuters stranded for hours, some even having to resort to spend the night in the middle of vehicle choked roads, isolated by the floods.
Rivers such as the Pasig, San Juan, and Marikina soon overflowed with water, which made the flooding even worse. The countless videos shown on traditional and new media outlets were a raw testament to nature’s fury unleashed at the height of Ondoy’s onslaught. Even large malls were not spared as powerful floods managed to seep their way and submerge parts of the mall into a flooded abyss.
But even in the face of calamities, you can count on fellow Filipinos who manage to turn things into their advantage. Some enterprising pedicab drivers managed to convert their vehicles into some form of water transport, transporting stranded passengers seated on the roof of their pedicabs to their destination while making huge profits out of it too. Others were seen using inflatable beds as boats for transport.
During those times, the continuous operations of Manila’s mass transit systems (Lines 1, 2, and 3) for 24 hours is something that must be lauded as it somehow helped passengers get home and the rescuers get to where they’re needed the most. On a personal note too, I am grateful to the mass transit systems for their continued operations that has helped me get home in the midst of the dreaded rains and floods that Saturday.
And we cannot discount the many stories of heroism in the face of this natural disaster as the tragedy brought out the best in people who help each other out in times of need, in spite of all the circumstances.
To some who were lucky to escape being heavily hit by Typhoon Ondoy, life still moves on as they manage to salvage what can be saved and make the most out of it.
Let us all be thankful that we as a a people have managed to survive this ordeal. Let us hope that whatever lessons this calamity has taught us be always remembered as we help out the others who were not as fortunate as we are.
Onward to recovery!