A 30 minute downpour, not really a strong one and our street disappears. A really strong one and water gets into our house. While other people sleep soundly when it rains (since it’s nice to snuggle in bed on cold weathers), most of us in our household are wide awake.
We live in a low lying area, with a creek snaking its way at the end of the street. At our house’s second floor balcony, you could see a pond with water cabbages at the back of the row of houses in front of ours. We’re also about less than five kilometers away from fishponds. There are times when the flood waters would carry tilapia and hito (catfish) into the street canals.
The flooding has been our problem since I was in grade school. Back then, we would think of the flood as cool, that the street’s turned into a swimming pool and that we should charge other kids who’d go there to swim, the money going to fixing the drainage. Back then, you could see your submerged feet unlike now when the water’s all dark. Yes, flood waters have a million microbes regardless but we were kids who’re not easily grossed out.
Some tricycle drivers would refuse us when we tell them the name of our street when it’s raining. Others would charge extra. Others would take us but would makea big deal of the trip. If I am their passenger, there is nothing for them to worry really, since I would get off where the flood waters would start. But I have neighbors who would demand that they be taken to the front of their houses where the water’s knee deep, where water would have gotten into the exhaust and the trike’s engines would have died. I would think that this is one of the things that had me prefering walking than taking a trike, even on days when the weather’s fine.
The local government’s solution was to raise the height of our street. To prevent flood waters from entering the houses, homeowners have raised their houses’ floorings. Not really a long term solution since the flood waters just kept on rising. Some of our neighbors have decided to sell their properties and leave. Mostly at a loss. I would think that the better solution would be a study of the areas surrounding the creek and identifying whether in the years that had passed if the boundaries of the creek has grown smaller. We have also managed to grab worldwide headlines when the Meycauayan River was adjudged as one of the world’s dirtiest river. So a clean-up might help.
During Typhoon Ondoy, with the waters rising fast, one of our neighbors tore a portion of their ceiling and sought refuge there. A pretty scary thing to do. Had the waters continued to rise, they would have been trapped. Inside our house, water was waist-deep at the lower areas, knee-deep at the new extension. Good thing we had a second floor. My 70 year old dad was able to haul a 50-kilo sack of rice up there by himself at that time. I was out of the country then.
With sea levels rising, it seems that there is no permanent solution to our flood problem. We have already purchased land elsewhere but I don’t think we will be able to give up the house we grew up in. We are thinking of copying the style of some of the HDBs in Singapore, wherein the first floor is just a landing and the living quarters begin at the second floor. We will still have the flooded street problem but at least we could sleep well. Until then, I remain afraid of the rain.