What was supposed to be an enjoyable monthly get-together EB with the rushers turned out to be a harrowing experience for me, my niece and thousands of others affected during the weekend. Who would’ve thought that the unexpected downpour bought about by typhoon Ondoy would turn out to be a horrific disaster that affected so many people in the city and nearby provinces?
It was Friday night when rains started pouring bought by Typhoon Ondoy. I was on my way home from my girlfriend’s house when the rain was stronger than usual and traffic was heavy even after midnight. It took me more than 2 hours to get from Las Piñas to Pasig.
The next day was no better. My niece, Coleen, has an afternoon class at DLSU so I suggested that she go with me first to RX before I accompany her to Taft then go to my girlfriend’s house. On our way to Ortigas, floodwaters were already at least ankle-deep along C5 near the Tiendesitas/SM Hypermart area. While at RX, rains turned for the worst. I got a call from my girlfriend who was at church at that time telling me not to go to their house anymore because of flood. Coleen also got a text from her classmate that their afternoon class was cancelled. We can no longer wait for the rains to subside so we left the station around noon. Since there were only a few of us who had vehicles, we offered to accommodate everybody we can and headed off to SM Megamall to have lunch. On our way, we were surprised that floodwater entered the mall and some parts of the basement were flooded. Even the parking areas on the 2nd and 3rd floors were flooded because the waters from the downspouts can’t hold the volume of water pouring. We also got a glimpse of EDSA as a virtual parking lot because vehicles on both directions were not moving. Fortunately for commuters, the MRT was still operational.
After the delectable lunch and dessert (Thanks again KC and Jobert for the 7 different gelato flavors we’ve sampled in Amici), we parted ways since we still needed to do some grocery shopping before heading home. During that time, I got a text from my sister, telling me to call our dad, because our other car overheated and got stuck somewhere along Taft. My other niece, Chili, still went to school because their class in the morning was not suspended.
We left the mall around 3 pm. Traffic was light from Julia Vargas and C5 southbound to Makati. The opposite direction was a different story. Traffic stretched out way back probably until Market! Market! We made our way to Pasig Blvd and then to Mercedes Ave. From that area to our house in Greenwoods would only take around 10 minutes. It was only then that we realized our real ordeal would start. Floodwaters started rising until about waist level. I would assess from time to time, if my trusted car can brave the relentless floodwaters. It did… for some time. When we turned right towards Sandoval avenue, we realized that the water was slowly entering the car, and the the level outside was around chest level. Looking for some last effort to save the car (and ourselves), we chanced upon a slightly elevated area at a gasoline station and parked the car at an angle, just to spare the car’s engine from excessive drowning. There were other vehicles parked there as well but the others had a better parking position.
I texted my sister that we were stuck at a gasoline station a few kilometers from the village’s gate. We were just waiting for the floodwaters to subside. An hour… 2 hours passed. Water level remained unchanged. It was already getting dark and my sister insisted that we just wade through the flood. I was concerned more with my niece because she has her monthly period and the risk of infection is high. I also have a wound on my toe and fear of leptospirosis. We were still fortunate in some way because we have some food and water to keep us satiated and hydrated (and rubbing alcohol to keep us santized at least). From time to time, we would scoop out the floodwater in the car using the trashbin I had in the car. We used that same trashbin to pee in. Yeah, TMI but survival skills at work here! We ditched our efforts scooping out the floodwater because it would still get in anyway. At least, the water level didn’t reached the seat level and we managed to remain dry for several hours.
The next several hours became more and more difficult as total darkness pitched in. Movement was limited in the vehicle. Both of my phones were drained. My PSP battery died on me as well. The signal on Coleen’s phone suddenly died and we had no way of communicating to anybody. I had to ration the remaining drinking water we had and made sure that Coleen is relatively ok. I was praying incessantly that we may be ok as well our family and friends who might be experiencing their own challenges brought by Ondoy. We managed to sleep for a few hours only to be jolted awake by a wave of floodwater that rocked the car caused by some idiotic truck driver who drove fast by the area.
I woke up again around 3 am and noticed that the stars were lit in the sky. The sky was clear! But the water level lowered a mere few inches. From time to time, I would turn on the car’s radio to listen to the news and update us on what’s happening. Turned out that Marikina, Pasig, and some parts of Rizal, including Cainta and San Mateo were the hardest hit by the storm.
By 6 am, Coleen and I decided to “abandon ship” (umm… abandon car?) and just bravefully wade through the flood to go home. After picking up our valuables, I locked the car and began trudging the thigh-high waters. Fortunately, an oil tanker truck passed by and we waved for a ride along with several others already hitching on its steel beams. We got off near the village and walked towards the guardhouse. Thank God the flood was only a little higher than ankle-level! While walking, I was still trying to get a good signal to call my sister so she could fetch us at the guardhouse. I managed to contact my girlfriend and requested that she call my sister and inform her about our situation. After walking for another 10-15 minutes past the guardhouse, we saw a familiar vehicle turning a corner and we frantically waved our hands in the air… Finally, we’re saved!
As I post this, my car is still abandoned along Sandoval Avenue in waist-high waters. I’ll try to recover it again when the floodwater subsides. To everybody else who had their own stories to tell and to those concerned about our safety, we are grateful for your thoughts and prayers. Hope you are too.