‘I saw killer Sendong floods coming,’ says village councilor
SAN PABLO CITY, Philippines–“I saw the killer Sendong floods coming, swiftly crushing our houses, uprooting trees and killing my fellow residents in Isla de Oro on Friday night,” said barangay (village) councilor Prisco Zapanta of Barangay 13 in Burgos, Cagayan De Oro City, over the phone.
“I lost my house, my belongings including my service vehicle for my (freight forwarding) business but I thanked God my whole family is all safe and alive. Please pray for us,” the councilor told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview.
“Nobody suspected that the huge flood was coming because early on that fateful day (Friday), the rains and winds of typhoon Sendong were considerably slow. It was only at about 10 p.m. when I observed the water at the Cagayan River surrounding Isla de Oro rising quite slowly,” Zapanta said.
Isla de Oro in Barangay 13, Burgos, was among the hardest-hit areas by flash floods spawned by typhoon Sendong on Friday night (December 16), said Zapanta who resided on the island sitio (settlement).
“Many of us have already started evacuating but the turn of events was too fast that at 11 p.m., when we were still evacuating our things and children, the flash floods were already too huge and furious that other residents still in their houses were swiftly washed away by the killer deluge.”
He said that in Isla de Oro alone, 24 bodies of his neighbors, who were mostly children, were recovered and about 100 were still missing, as of Sunday.
There were about 500 families, or 7,000 residents, on Isla de Oro, said Zapanta, adding that in the whole of Barangay 13, the registered voters were 5,000.
The councilor and his family are staying at the school in Barangay Carmen where his newly wed son teaches.
Bona Rama, 21, of Talisayan, Misamis Oriental, cheated death by holding on to a blanket fashioned into a rope by fellow survivors who pulled her out from the second floor before flood waters engulfed the three-story building where she was staying in Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City.
Rama was among 200 nursing students billeted staying in the dormitory building as they prepared for their board examinations scheduled on Sunday (December 18) at nearby examination centers in the city.
There on the rooftop, Rama and other drenched survivors huddled and waited for typhoon Sendong to blow over.
She told the Inquirer that a househelper and a child of the building’s owner who stayed on the first floor did not make it to the rooftop and drowned.
The concrete building housed the Reviewer Center where the 200 nursing graduates from various schools in the Misamis area had converged in preparation for their Sunday examinations.
(Editors’ Note: The correspondent, Romulo Ponte, a native of Cagayan de Oro City, interviewed the survivors by phone. Rama is Ponte’s relative, while councilor Zapanta is a childhood friend.)
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