DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 July) – It’s been a month since the flood that hit five barangays here, and the victims particularly those in Arroyo Compound, Barangay Matina Crossing have rebuilt their houses and are trying to slowly get back on their feet.
The Arroyo Compound was the worst-hit community along the riverbank of Talomo River as 17 of the 30 fatalities were from this area, where a flood caused by heavy rains washed away dozens of houses on the evening of June 28 until early morning the following day.
Aside from Matina Crossing, the flood also hit barangays Matina Pangi, Talomo, Matina Aplaya and Maa .
As if to mock the misfortune that befell them, some of the residents were building their houses on exactly the same spot where the old ones had stood.
Saturnino Oliveros, a retired security guard who is now in his 60s, told MindaNews that he would not build a concrete house again because he is still afraid that another flash flood may happen again.
Instead, Oliveros built a new house made of light materials over the concrete floor, which is the only remnant of his damaged dwelling. And unlike the old house, which had three bedrooms, the new one only has two bedrooms.
He said some of the materials he used were part of the assistance from the city government.
“During heavy rains, we would evacuate the children to the safer grounds. We are still worried that the water level in this river rise again during heavy rains,” said Oliveros, whose house is just about five meters away from the edge of the riverbank.
He recalled that it took him five years to finish his house. “But it only took a matter of minutes for the flood to totally destroy it. The river looks serene now as if nothing happened in the past. But trauma is still there whenever it rains very hard.”
Like Oliveros, carpenter Pablito Dusmion also built a new house over the concrete floor of the old one.
“We have a joke here that we would rather have houses made of toilet bowls because most of the toilet bowls remained in their positions after the flood,” Dusmion quipped.
Dusmion, who used to have a two-bedroom concrete house, said he refused to move to other places as he works in the city proper. “We heard that the relocation site is in Marahan, it’s very far from where we work.”
Marahan is around 70 kilometers from Barangay Matina Crossing.
Dusmion said that the city government distributed four sheets of plywood and four sheets of hardiflex or cement sheets. “We also received initial P5,000 cash assistance from the city government.”
Sari-sari stores, videoke are back
Unlike in the first few days after the flood, the entire community was silent.
This time, the sounds of videoke echoed all over the place again and some were coming from across the riverbank.
Fifty-four-year-old Dionesio Priete has reopened his sari-sari store in his new house, which like most of the rest, is also made of light materials.
Priete, whose house is around five meters from the edge of the riverbank, said their old sari-sari store was bigger and made of concrete.
“Like most of us here, only the toilet bowl was able to withstand the strong current. It’s like a cemetery where white toilet bowls remained standing,” he quipped as he and his wife Emma were slicing bamboo for the fence.
“We will save again as start-up capital so that we can sell meat again,” he said.
A few meters away from his house, several sari-sari stores have also reopened.
City information chief Bong Aportadera earlier told MindaNews that the city government had allocated P10,000 each for totally destroyed houses and P5,000 each for the partially damaged ones.
But some residents were building houses using recycled materials.
Tita Oliveros, president of the United Matina Settlers Federation, said around 3,000 households remained intact in Arroyo Compound after the flood.
Ms Oliveros, wife of Saturnino, added they refused to be relocated because many of them are working as ambulant vendors and laborers. “Kaning mga tao dire halos mga ordinaryong mamumuo mao na nga dili gusto magpalayo puy-anan (Most of the people here are ordinary workers that’s why they don’t want to go far),” she said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that 137 houses were totally damaged , 76 of which were in Matina Crossing. Two hundred sixty-eight other houses were partially damaged, 214 of which were in the same barangay. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)