28 September 2009

Families and Floods

Last night I got an email from a friend who was visiting London, containing just one sentence:

Is your family all right?

When I read it, I did a quick run-through of my family members. Nope, all present and accounted for. What did I miss? Was there an earthquake that I didn't feel? I wrote back and said we were all fine.

This morning I saw the headlines: Manila floods kill 106. Here's an excerpt from the Associated Press news release:

MANILA, Philippines – Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers Monday as residents started to dig out their homes from under carpets of mud after flooding left 140 people dead in the Philippine capital and surrounding towns.

Overwhelmed officials called for international help, warning they may not have sufficient resources to withstand another storm that forecasters said was brewing east of the island nation and could hit as early as Friday.

Authorities expected the death toll from Tropical Storm Ketsana, which scythed across the northern Philippines on Saturday, to rise as rescuers penetrate villages blocked off by floating cars and other debris. The storm dumped more than a month's worth of rain in just 12 hours, fueling the worst flooding to hit the country in more than 40 years. At least 140 people died, and 32 are missing.

Oh my.

I'm notorious for not staying on top of the latest news. Alfie has to spoon feed me with emails and links to articles, and I rely on whatever top stories I see on my home page when I check my Yahoo! mail (which is how I found out about this tragedy). And I'm even more notorious for failing to call my parents in Manila on a regular basis. More often than not, they call me when too much time has passed and we haven't said hello.

They haven't called me, so I guess they must be all right.


It's too early to call them right now, but I'm hoping and praying they're fine. After all, this happens every year. The Philippines sees so many typhoons during the rainy season. Signal Number 3 (which signifies the intensity of a typhoon) is a way of life, and while Signal Number 4 and Number 5 are rare, Filipinos get through them. I've experienced countless typhoons and seen the streets of Metro Manila flood countless times.

This one sounds REALLY bad. The hardest hit by the calamity in Metro Manila is reportedly Barangay Bagong Silangan, in Quezon City, with 27 casualties. Quezon City is not too far from where my parents live. Fortunately for them (and unfortunately for many other people), devastation tends to hit poorer areas the hardest -- garbage thrown illegally by squatters tends to fill up sewers and cause flash floods in these areas. So, even though I'm somewhat ashamed to make this assumption, I'm using it to reassure myself that my parents are probably fine.

I hope.

Bonggamom also blogs at Finding Bonggamom, Bonggamom Finds and the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

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