It's estimated more than one million people have been affected already by the Philippines floods - with around 250,000 people displaced. World Vision staff worker Jay Minares writes from outside Manila, where an estimated 90 percent of the entire city is affected by the floods.
As heavy rain poured all day and all night Monday evening, I travelled around Marikina in darkness on my 4x4. At one area, I wondered why cars had suddenly stopped.
Vehicles started pulling back until my car was the only one left in front of a vast sea of floodwater. Then suddenly a truck full of wet furniture and wood scraps passed by; the driver told me they were evacuating and saving what was left of their house. I felt the shivers in my bones. Flashback to floodwaters during Ketsana in September 2009.
In spite of this fear, I continued to move forward in the sea of floodwater since I needed to take a close relative to her church for a conference. As it turned out, her church became an instant evacuation centre the next morning.
On Tuesday morning, floodwaters in Marikina River reached over 20 metres high (and rising), two metres above "critical" level. I immediately turned the TV on and my three children cheered with joy upon learning that they wouldn’t have school today. Their smiles turned into awe and sadness at the sight of flooding and evacuees on TV. Then my youngest son, Gian Paolo, prayed before breakfast: "Please Lord, don’t let the flood-stricken ones die".
Our hearts sank, and we decided to go out and see what was happening outside. I decided not to bring a vehicle and just walked through the rain around Kalumpang village to assess the flood situation in our neighbourhood while my wife tagged along to buy food. “God please spare our community,” she said as we witnessed the river push up against the banks and nearby houses.
People lined the river banks on the lookout for final signs to evacuate. A neighbour Dixie said that she was "afraid about another Ketsana destroying our properties". Dixie lives near the river’s edge and lost nearly everything during Ketsana. A number of people stayed put in the second and third floors of their houses as the waters continued to rise, afraid of leaving their homes amidst the danger.
We also witnessed some people who were stranded on the second floor of a church. I was thankful to learn that no one had been carried away by the strong currents yet in Marikina, but danger remains. As we continued to walk, we met a vendor who walked three miles away from his home to sell bananas so that his flooded families would have rice to eat. He said he'd left his children and family on the second floor of their neighbour’s house in Masinag village which is already neck-deep in the flood waters.
Different villagers in Kalumpang waited and waded out in the streets, peeping from their windows on the second floor, and standing on rooftops because of the waist-deep water there. Water had already flooded their ground floors since Tuesday morning. In spite of the forced evacuation, they don’t want to leave their homes yet. They are just asking for food and water, trying to hold out for a few days.
As we made our way home, we saw people starting to line up in the rain outside a small store in Marikina to buy food. In all of this, we continued to pray for safety for others who are affected by the floods as we walked back to our own home just a stone’s throw away from the battered Marikina River.
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Donations to our Emergency & Preparedness Fund help with the pre-postioning of relief supplies and training of emergency staff to assist affected communities. World Vision is working with local authorities to determine what relief supplies may be needed, such as blankets, containers for water collection, soap, cooking fuel and utensils.