Cops forcibly rescue orphans in MarikinaBy Kristine Felisse Mangunay
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ivy Kumike thought of devils stealing the family possessions as knee-deep floodwaters lapped at her shanty.
So she and her two brothers and four sisters vowed they would never abandon the ramshackle house on Bulelak Street in the village of Malanday near the swollen Marikina River.
That was Wednesday and the sun even peeked briefly through the dark skies.
“We all agreed that we would not leave. We were afraid somebody would steal all our belongings while we were out,” she said of the family who had been orphaned and had been surviving on their own.
Past 9 p.m. Ivy fell asleep, unaware that the monsoon fury had dumped more rains and the flood was rising steadily.
She woke up at midnight and saw that the water level was waist high.
“I was scared, very scared,” said Ivy, the second in the brood.
That was when she saw outside the window two men waving at her.
They were policemen—angels sent by God—out to save them.
Troops of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Coast Guard set out to forcibly evacuate residents in the Marikina area after the river level hit 20.22 meters—2.22 meters more than the critical level of 18 meters—on Wednesday afternoon.
They arrived in trucks and carried rubber boats. Malacañang and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council had directed them to get marooned people out of harm’s way.
The policemen were under orders to evacuate villages in Marikina that three years ago went under water from a torrent of rainfall unleashed by Tropical Storm “Ondoy.” The men led the Kumike siblings as they waded through the rising waters to safety.
Joseph Briones, the village chairman of Malanday, said Thursday some 3,000 families were evacuated from his area and the adjoining Barangay Concepcion I, Tumana and Nangka—parts of which straddled Provident Village, a subdivision whose inundation was one of the worst wrought by Ondoy.
“I still cannot believe we actually made it,” Ivy said at Malanday Elementary School where she was brought, along with other evacuees.
Ella Pepres, 13, said she, her father and several others were sleeping in their two-story shanty on Jade Street when floodwaters began to rise.
According to Pepres, the older people woke her up at around 3 a.m. “I saw that the waters were already rising,” she said.
Braving the darkness, she and her companions sloshed through the waters, assisted by several policemen.
When she got to safer ground, she saw one rubber boat filled with people rescued from other houses. A truck, she said, was also on standby nearby.
“It was scary, really. I was just following my father,” she recalled.
Water rises to roof
The Inquirer learned that soon after the operation, waters in the area reached the roofs of houses.
Senior Police Officer 3 Greco Gonzales said that although a majority of the people they evacuated offered very little resistance, there were still a few who refused to evacuate.
“They were saying they didn’t want to leave their houses because some things might get stolen. But that’s possible of course. We had to explain to them all over again that they had to leave until they finally did,” he said.
The flooding, the worst since 2009, rattled the nerves of thousands of people who had to be evacuated for the second time in as many days after returning home following a brief respite from rains on Wednesday.
“They are hard-headed. Now that the waters are high again, they got scared and they are calling us to be rescued,” said Senior Inspector Abner Perdosa, who led a team of rescuers in bright orange shirts helping residents across waist-deep muddy waters into government-run shelters.
Minerva Mercader, a beauty parlor worker, said she and her children had returned to their house near a river in Quezon City when the weather cleared on Wednesday, only to rush back to a nearby church when the waters rose again.
“I got scared because the sky was so dark and there was this downpour,” said Mercader, who was dripping wet from the rain as she stepped into Santo Domingo Church with her three children. “We have no food and I don’t know what to do.” With a report from AP