Sunday, December 7, 2008
I normally enjoy the feeling of going to sleep as torrential rainfall comes down outside. There's a certain sense of security and warmth about being wrapped up under your sheets and safe from inclement weather. So that's what I did on Saturday night.
I was torn from this pleasant dream at about 1:30 a.m. as I groggily woke up to the screams of my host mother and realized that my floor was already covered in a few inches of water. I hastily stood up on my bed and started hoisting electronics, books, and magazines from my bed to higher ground. The lower half of my mattress was already soaked, compliments of a leaky nipa roof.
Once I'd cleared off the important things from my bed, I sort of froze in shock. The water kept rising. Already given up to the water were all my shoes, half of my clothes, and some random papers and magazines that were on the ground or on low shelves. It was time to get in. Forgetting a lifetime of jokes about high-water pants, I stepped in to the hopefully-not-contaminated water wearing baggy white basketball shorts. I had a short table with a lot of important documents, books, and magazines on it that needed to be cleared off. Once I got to that point, it was sort of a wait-and-see.
I realized belatedly that my bed would float (it's just a thin foam mattress on a wooden frame), so I could have saved some initial time that I spent clearing it off. But I couldn't leave my room as Sining (host mom) was yelling at me to stay in my room because the water was higher outside. I doubted this claim, as there's a 1-inch gap between my door and the floor, but I stayed put. Eventually the waters began to recede, having got as high as my knees. But nothing could be done until the water level dropped to the lowest barrier outside. After that, we'd have to bail out about 8 inches of water, because my room + porch is sort of like a tub. And now it even has a ring to prove it.
When the water finally reached the bailout point, I started on my room and porch area, while Mark went for the kitchen (it's own, separate tub.) Eventually, after much more exercise than I'm used to at 3 in the morning, the water was mostly down. But there was still a ton of silt and mud to be dealt with, as the river had been carrying quite a bit. We worked and cleaned until 6 a.m. until I couldn't stand it anymore, and I went to go sleep in the extra room upstairs.
In the end, the damage wasn't so bad. It could have been much worse. I will be eternally grateful that I put my laptop on my bed that night, instead of in its bag on the floor, as I usually do. All in all, the main fallout was losing a backlog of Economist and GQ magazines, a bunch of paper I probably needed to recycle anyway, 3 books that are totally soaked through, a lot of basketball cards (planned as presents to children here), my Trivial Pursuit '90s edition, and all my shoes are soaked. I hope they'll dry. Basically all of my clothes except the ones I'm wearing (one change of clothes made it through dry) are still wet. My passport and iPod cord also got soaked, but hopefully they'll survive.
And in anticipation, here's a PFAQ (Potential Frequently Asked Questions) Section:
How did your host mom wake up in the first place?
Usually when there's a super high tide, my toilet goes glug-glug-glug as the water table gets inundated. This happens frequently enough that you don't even think about it. For some reason, on this night, she heard it only go glug-glug-glug once and was up in a flash, and looked outside and saw the rising floodwaters. I, for the record, never heard anything.
Why did it flood?
We live about 5 houses away from the river. Apparently the river had been running high all week, and with the super-hard rain coming on Saturday night in addition to a week of heavy rains, it must have caused a storm surge of at least 2 meters. I'm not sure what role the tide had, if any. Another thing to think about is the cause that deforestation had on the ability of the mountains and hills to retain water and sediment, rather than letting it gush through the valley and flood. I can only speculate, and it still may have flooded were the deforestation not so severe, but I'm guessing it had a lot to do with it.
Wow! Do you have any pictures of this?
Uh, in case you didn't notice, I embedded a YouTube video at the start of this post. If it's not showing up for some reason, here's the link: Flash Flood Video
And if you haven't seen what my house looks like during non-flooded times, here's a link for comparision: Cribs Philippines
Why haven't you blogged for 2 months? What have you been up to?
My parents came/I've been busy/I've been unmotivated/it was thanksgiving/It's been a rough month/etc. etc. I'll get around to some updates, I hope!
at 7:39 PM