VALENCIA CITY (MindaNews/06 August) – She had lived with floods in previous years. But for Leilani Cabanez, the flood that raged along Panlibatuhan Creek in this city on Tuesday was the worst she had experienced so far.
Cabanez said it was the first time the water level of the creek rose so high that she and most of her neighbors were unable to bring any belongings with them as they tried to escape to safety.
“I brought nothing. The clothes I’m wearing now are all donated,” she said in the vernacular.
Cabanez’s house stands beside the creek in Purok 16, Barangay Poblacion. She said her house was not damaged but was still dirty with mud and debris.
She said she believes the flood was caused by a “buhawi” (twister). “Dako man gyud kaayo ang tubig, unya morag naglukot-lukot og maayo ba” (The water was so big and raged like waves).
Cedenda Vina, Cabanez’s neighbor and relative, also said it was the worst flood along Panlibatuhan Creek.
Vina said she started living in Purok 16 in 1992. She recalled that floods had occurred in the past years “pero dili ingon ani kagrabe” (not as bad as this one).
“Before, the water only flooded the floor of our house. But on Tuesday the water level already reached our window,” she said.
“Ingon ani kataas among bintana,” (Our windows are as high as this) she said, putting her right hand above her head while her left hand shook the head of her one-year old daughter who had started to cry.
Vina stands around five feet tall.
She said she was in nearby Barangay Bagontaas on Tuesday to attend her father-in-law’s burial when she heard about the flood.
She rushed home but it was too late to try to save their belongings. She would have been trapped inside by the rising water if not for the rescuers who threw a rope to them and pulled them to safety.
At the time, two of her seven children were still in school. The flood occurred around 3pm.
Norvin Yam-oc, a resident of Purok 6A, said he and his wife, Luisa, would have drowned too if not for the rescuers.
“I had to carry my wife on my shoulders while holding on to the rope thrown by the rescuers. She could no longer walk on the ground as the water was already so high,” Yam-oc said.
He said they managed to save some clothes but their appliances and two motorcycles were all damaged.
The flood on Tuesday displaced 226 families or 793 individuals. They were housed at the city gymnasium and provided rations by the local government.
By Thursday morning only 157 families or 528 individuals had remained at the gymnasium.
Narisa Culob, a barangay health worker, said the others went home to either start cleaning their houses or repair damaged ones.
Cabanez said she had opted to stay at the evacuation site as power had not been restored in the affected areas. “Ngitngit kaayo didto” (It’s so dark there).
On Wednesday, the City Risk Reduction and Management Office said seven persons died in the flood. Among the casualties were a six-month old baby boy and her mother. His father was still missing as of Thursday noon. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)