Baby survives 3-km drift in floods
DAPITAN CITY—For several hours on Sunday, Mary May Porongao, 18, was separated from her more than a month old baby, Zian Miles, as floodwater rose in their hut in the village of Opao.
What happened next was a story of a mother’s anguish at the thought of losing her child and of sheer luck.
When heavy rains started to turn Opao into a body of water, Mary May was asleep with Zian Miles. Her siblings and other relatives were asleep in the same hut as Mary May’s.
Rising waters roused them from sleep. In a few minutes, Mary May recalled, it was more than 5 feet deep.
Mary May, her baby and relatives soon found themselves in the raging water, clinging to whatever they can to avoid being swept away.
They clambered onto a broken refrigerator, using it as a buoy. Mary May placed baby Zian Miles atop it.
But the current was too strong for the broken ref to stay afloat. Mary May held her baby in one hand while she frantically paddled with the other hand to safety.
In the darkness, she saw the outlines of a box and swam to it, failing to reach what turned out to be Styrofoam thrice because of the strong current.
When she succeeded in getting to the Styrofoam, she placed Zian Miles inside. But as soon as the baby was in the box, strong currents swept it away. “My baby disappeared in the flood and darkness,” said Mary May.
When she and her siblings found safety, Mary May said she started searching for Zian Miles. “She was nowhere to be found,” she said.
Mary May and her partner reached the next village in the frantic search for their baby. The search went on for five hours without results.
Mary May refused to give up. “Her intuition was so strong that the baby was alive somewhere,” said Mitzie Dulawan of the Dapitan City Information Division.
At 5 a.m. on Monday, a neighbor told Mary May a Styrofoam box was seen by the riverside, still in Opao. When Mary May found the box, her baby was still there, sleeping but at least 3 kilometers away from home.
Dulawan said it could be sheer luck that the box got entangled in the bushes which prevented it from being swept into the river.
Zian Miles was brought to a hospital where she was declared out of danger.
Nelson Quimigin, city disaster management officer, said no casualty was reported from floods that swept the other villages of the city.
But there was damage to crops, according to city Councilor Dug Christopher Mah. —LEAH AGONOY
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