A Personal Account of the Flood by Fr Daniel Polzer, LC
September 26 began like most Saturdays at our house of apostolate in Manila. It was raining constantly but nothing unusual. I remember commenting to Fr Eric at breakfast that it had rained all night and it woke me up several times.
After breakfast, Fr Eric left for Everest Academy for the weekly ConQuest boy’s club meeting. I decided to go for a walk even though it was raining. The rain was coming down steadily but that is something you get used to in the Philippines during the rainy season.
After I showered, someone rang the door bell to warn that the street was flooding and I moved the car that was in the street into the car port. Magallanes Village, where we live, has a drainage creek skirting the western perimeter. When it rains hard the street almost always floods so I was not alarmed. I sent a text cancelling my appointment and said that I might not be able to get out.
The water reached the curb and then started flooding the drive way. After a while the water entered the chapel, and I thought I better start moving things from the living area to the bed rooms which are two steps up from the rest of the house. When I was moving the television, my foot splashed in water. It was already coming in through the front door. At that point I decided to consume the Blessed Sacrament, just incase. I shut the power off and moved what I could into the bed rooms.
I started putting things up as high as a could, putting anything valuable on top of desks and beds, removing books from the bottom book shelves and putting them up above. I texted Fr Eric to stay at school and not to come home. I could see out my window that people were wading down the street chest deep in water. Water started coming in from my bedroom window which is about ten inches above the floor level. At that point I decided it was time to leave. I packed a bag with some clean clothes, toiletries, my breviary, wallet and cell phone and left the house. I crossed the street to our neighbor’s house in water chest deep with my bag over my head. The Ocampo family has a second floor so I figured it would be a safe place to stay.
I could see from their second floor balcony that our house was flooded up to the top of our front gate. Our two cars were submerged under water. There was very little news, just that the flooding was very bad. We prayed a rosary. I tried to help by entertaining the youngest child, Nino, by playing games with him.
I spent the night at the Ocampo’s house. By midnight the water had subsided and the street was a layer of mud. The next morning I crossed back over with Mr. Ocampo to see how things were. The glass door in the chapel was broken. There were things from the kitchen in the back yard. Our dining room table had floated into the living room. The things I had put up on the beds were all dry because the beds had floated. The floor was covered with mud. At first I thought we had lost just about everything.
Fr Eric arrived, a little disappointed that he had missed it all. We got to work cleaning up. Several Regnum Christi members came by to help. In the end the damage was not so bad as it first appeared. We were able to save a lot of the furniture. We moved most of the furniture to the new property we recently purchased where we will build our permanent residence. The house in Magallanes is no longer livable. The doors are warped and the floor is beginning to come up. Most of the cabinets are falling apart because they were made of plywood.
Many, many people suffered much worse then we did. Some people still have their houses submerged under water. Large parts of the city were not affected at all and are functioning normally while other parts are disaster zones. Relief stations had been set up in many of the schools to collect goods and distribute them to flood victims. Everest Academy has been collecting goods from the students and distributing them.
The Filipinos are a people accustomed to disaster and hard times. They have a great deal of resilience and a deep faith. They will bury their dead, clean up and continue with life. It is hard to see people who have very little lose the little they have. Some are angry, some are sad, many are smiling and playing in the water. Everyone does the best they can and life goes on.
We will be talking about the flood for years to come. It has affected almost everyone in one way or another from those who lost everything to those who have much and have generously contributed to the relief effort. One day, unexpectedly, people’s lives were shattered, many perished in the raging waters, others clung on to life until they were rescued. God knows why he allows these things to happen. He Knows how to bring out the generosity of a people.
*The families from Mano Amiga were relatively unaffected by the flood. Sadly, some of the employees lost their homes. Mano Amiga Academy conducted a relief drive to help the employees as well as other victims from Taguig and Marikina.