“My house is gone, my neighbor’s houses, too”

DARONG, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur (MindaNews/18 January) — “My house is gone. All of the houses of my neighbors are gone, too. Nothing is left in Sitio Guava,” 62-year-old Erlinda Sanchez said, as she narrated what happened Monday night.

“I was carrying my four-year-old grandson, Lawrence, when my house collapsed under my feet,” she said.

Sanchez said she kept a firm grip on her grandson, but to her horror, Lawrence’s hand slipped from hers as they were carried away by the rampaging waters.

“I cried out loud and I dived into the water looking for my grandson,” she said.

Sanchez groped in the dark, felt a foot of the boy and pulled him out of the water.

Sanchez and her grandson survived by clinging to a coconut tree where they were found by rescuers in the morning.

But her house and those of her neighbors were gone.

Sanchez said she found a gaping hole from where her house stood before. “I lost everything. The pump boat which we recently bought. The fishing net. All of our livelihood is gone.”

Only a few posts of the houses in Sitio Guava remained by Tuesday morning. Officials said 24 huts were swept away here.

Barangay councilor Eman Sinacan said that when the rains poured heavily Monday night, he and other officials were ready for any untoward incident. But the floodwaters rose so quickly they could not do anything but pray.

He said they could only watch helplessly as the waters from the mountains swept through the village, destroying at least a hundred huts in four sitios and killing at least three persons.

Minda Quijada, a midwife at the Darong barangay hall, said residents from sitios Papaya, Rambutan, Durian and Guava, were evacuated to safer grounds by rescuers and brought to evacuation centers in adjoining barangays in Sta. Cruz and neighboring Davao City.

“The deluge was too much. We were shocked to see how the water rose quickly. We were helpless,” he said.

Still half-dazed by lack of sleep, Sinacan narrated to MindaNews how he and a small group of volunteers tried to rescue three children left in a hut that was about to be swept away by the floodwaters.

Sinacan said they were able to hold the hands of the children but loosened their grip on one of them because of the rampaging waters.

“I do not know what happened to her. It was too dark,” he said.  (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)