I had been warning my family since Thursday about the possibility of another typhoon hitting Northern Mindanao. I gathered from news reports that Sendong (Washi) was on its way to the southern part of the country.
By Friday 1AM (For those who do not know, we are an insomniac family), my mother sent me a message saying:
Ok ra Ya, wla lagi ulan diri, maayo nlang wla ko nilarga to Butuan kay naa bagyo
It’s okay, it’s not raining here. It’s good that I didn’t push through with the trip to Butuan, especially since there’s a storm coming.
Mama had originally planned to leave for Butuan and get the remaining things she left there after closing down a branch of our family business. And she also visits Butuan from time to time because my aunt lives in Caraga region’s capital.
For those also unfamiliar with Mindanao’s routinary weather, Butuan, as the rest of Caraga, is usually the first part which is hit by fury of storms coming in from the Pacific. And we all thought that Sendong would hit Butuan instead of Cagayan de Oro.
Still, I kept monitoring the developments in CDO at the same time contacting my family for updates on the ground (which are more reliable than Manila-based newscasts).
At 3PM, Mama texted me again;
Ya, karon gaulan, dag-um kaayo, unya pa daw kusog rainfall, ampo lang ta dili mubaha. Hinuon naa naman ang Strada nga makalabang dayon mmi. Ikaw, musta diha?
It is raining here with dark clouds hanging. They say we will have heavir rainfall later. Let’s pray there’d be no flood. If it does, at least we have the Strada which would allow us to ford the waters. How about you? How are things there?
Since the university where I am working was celebrating it’s annual pre-Christmas celebrations and my job entails that I make sure there are pictures and these pictures circulate the net, I told my mom that I was busy at the moment. But I told her to contact me in case something bad happens.
I was still in the office by 12 midnight, when my mom sent me another text message. She texted…
Ya, niulan na diri kusog2, ug hangin pod. Brown-out ra ba, wla ko natulog kay gamonitor ko, basin musaka suba, giapas namo sorene sa Ketkai nghost SALE, baha na didto. c Papa ngbiyahe Tangub, wla pa ngtxt nakaabot na ba. Ikaw? kamusta diha?
It is raining heavily here, and with strong winds. There is a partial black out that’s why I decided not to sleep and instead listen to the news. The waters of the (Iponan) river might rise. We fetched Sorene (my sister) at Limketkai Mall where she was hosting a program for the mall sale.It’s already flooding there. Your father left for Tangub (Misamis Oriental) and he hasn’t texted yet if he’s already there. How about you? How are you?
An hour later, my brother texted me
Kuya, wala nay kuryente entire CDO. Kusog kaayo ang ulan Kami Ma ug Ate naa diri balay. Wala mi natulog ga-monitor mi. Baha na sa Burgos, Balulang, Carmen Acacia, Macanhan, Gusa and Cugman. Okay ra mi ya, anad naman ko ug baha.
The entire CDO has a black out. The rain is very heavy. I am with Mama and Sorene here at the house. We did not sleep since we are monitoring the situation. Burgos (street); (Barangay) Balulang; (Barangay) Carmen, Acacia (street); (Barangay) Macanhan, Gusa and Cugman: are now flooded. We’re okay since I have gotten used to floods.
My brother’s last line recalled how in January 2009, my family also evacuated the house after days of continuous rain made the Iponan River (which is 50 meters aways from our house) burst its banks.
A month before that (December 2008), my aunt and cousins also evacuated their house in Barangay Macasandig after the waters from the Cagayan River (which was about 100 meters away) flooded the area.