Monday, February 9, 2009

a Hole in the Wall


Some months back I wrote a post entitled "a river runs through it", and it was about how the Banica River swelled and overflowed unto the Overflow, the Overflow being the "Road" that passes over the river. (If that confuses you, click on the link to see the image of a river running over a road, a road that runs over a river! In flood state, they sort of run into each other.)

Last Saturday, during the Dumaguete flood of unprecedented magnitude, I had a first hand experience of what it feels to have a river run TO it, with it being our very own house.

We live in Baranggay Bagacay, right by the highway, in a compound with my brother, my auntie and my cousins. It so happens that our houses are located on a down slope from the street, meaning our lots are actually below street level. And it also just so happens that there are no canals or drainage systems to speak of in our immediate area. This has never been a problem in the past as whenever it rained hard and the street flooded, any run off would just pass by us and go directly to the dry creek bed several meters behind our houses.

So I don't know the physics of what happened last Saturday but all of a sudden we had water coming to us from the highway, passing through my Aunty Mary's House, through my cousins' house, through my brother's house and finally to our house, which is located at the rearmost. This was around four pm and it was a bit alarming because the rain did not show any sign of letting up ever since the steady downpour began Saturday dawn. Well, since Friday actually, but it was just some drizzle then.

At almost four pm:

Patrick securing the electrical outlets in the just-starting-to-flood garage

A little river runs through the front yard

And down the right side yard, too

I've always wanted to have a swimming pool in my backyard... but not like this!

In just thirty minutes, this black garden set was totally submerged in flood water.

Crescendo at half past four:

During the height of the flood, nobody could think of taking pictures anymore. Things were happening so fast. The water from the street was rushing in in torrents, dragging with it all the dirt and debris from the highway as well as the incredible reality that our houses could soon get flooded, all appliances dangerously grounded and all other kinds of only-in-the-movies scenarios. Water had already entered the houses in front of ours and their occupants were hastily lifting things to higher ground. Later, none could believe that they had lifted what they had lifted. The only confirmation was the soreness of everyone's shoulders, arms and legs the next day.

Though water had not yet entered our living room, which is actually of the same elevation as the street thru backfilling, water was rising fast in the garage and in the porch. All around the house, the muddy water was rumbling around and around in restless energy. The water from the street and from what seemed like everywhere else was trapped within the four walls of our concrete fence. Our house was swimming in a swirling lake of mud, water and debris. Everyone inside was busy elevating things that could be elevated and plugging doorways with rugs to keep the water out.

The only obvious solution was to find an outlet for the fast rising water. Mike and Ellyn borrowed Tita Mary's bara (a steel bar with a sharp end) and Mike started digging a hole in the wall. He wanted to dig the hole in the back fence but the water there was already waist high so he decided to make the hole in the side fence instead. The water at the side of the house was thigh high yet. After a few strokes he could feel that a hole was made because water started to rush through the hole. He shouted, "I've made a hole!" and Ellyn, who was swimming after her pots and pans and other whatnots in the backyard pool said, "Make another one!"

But before Mike could heave another go with the bara, he heard this sound, and felt the sudden surge of what seemed like tons of water, which almost swept him off his feet and carried him off into the kawayanan in the vacant lot next to ours. That sound was the sound of our concrete wall crumbling under the power of the raging flood waters.

Denouement at almost five:

With the wall down, the waters flooding all the other houses immediately subsided. What a relief. Time for a celebration!

Some driveway frolic for Anton and Ellyn

Amidst all the flotsam and jetsam, a little snake from the bamboos nearby

The morning after:

The backpool has disappeared, all the mud and grime to our backsteps have adhered

The concrete wall on the left side of this image cannot be seen because it is lying on the ground. Those thin bamboos scattered on the ground are bagacay poles that were supposed to be used to adorn and soften the bare and gray cement wall, but we never got around to attending to that. Now my brother has jokingly suggested that we should just use these bagacay for our new fence. Hmm.

The wall is down. I repeat, the wall is down.
This view was taken from the back porch, same vantage point as the third image in this series. (right side of the house)

The driveway is almost dry ground now.
Another day in Dumaguete begins,
this time with a new awareness that the once no-baha city is not so invulnerable anymore.


Kittymama said...

Doc Ness, that was a really frightening experience! I was so amazed that you were able to document it at all (me, I'd probably be running around like a headless chicken, hehe).

Hope everything is back to normal already. Be safe always and God bless!

ness said...

Thanks, Kitty Mama!

Indeed it was one unforgettable experience, one nobody wants to repeat!

Ligaya said...


Bonnie M. said...

Binaha ang Dumaguete? Sobrang strange.

ness said...

We could hardly believe it ourselves. Some people say it's because of the rampant illegal logging in the mountains. There are no more trees to hold the water and soil in that's why ni baha. Some say there's a dike that burst. Some say it's because of a very poor drainage system. Some say it's climate change. Unsa dagway gyud.

Whatever the reason, it sure was strange for all of us.

Vk-mahalkaayo said...

gabaha pod sa ako sister, dli mi kagawas sa dalan paingon sa city.

first time daw to nga mibaha....

naatol pd nga burial ni mama.....

ness said...

Condolence, Vicki...

Mura ug ning duyog gyud ang lakangitan sa inyong pagbakho...

unforgettable day kadtong feb. 7...