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Typhoon Ondoy - day 1.  one month of rain in six hours

                            [posted by Sean]

I can still see the faces of our friends from the bridge as they huddled in the dark under a tarp, trying to keep the rain off of them. They were now on higher ground between the rail of the bridge and the hollow block wall of their neighbor. They had carried out as many of their possessions from their homes and piled them up under the tarp before the floodwaters swept away five of their homes and submerged the rest. Sleeping in my own bed and being in our house reminds me of God's kindness, but I can't help but feel a sense of guilt to know that so many others have no bed and are sleeping on the wet ground.


Getting home wasn't easy. It all started on Saturday morning when we left for Christian's volleyball game. It was only drizzling at the time and there didn't seem to be any reason for concern. By the time Christian's games were over the rain was coming down in sheets and were driven by winds. We got texts that traffic was heavy and that the varsity volleyball team was stuck on the road and didn't even make it to their game. We decided to wait it out at the mall across the street till the traffic died down. Our last communication with our other four kids in the early afternoon was that they were all at home safe, but that our power went out. Anxious to get home to our kids, we set out at about 4 p.m. to drive home - I was thinking to get home while there was still light. We were amazed at how clear the roads were. I figured a lot of people were just staying home because of the heavy rains. Well that didn't last long. We hit a wall of traffic and moved very slowly for about an hour, only traveling about a mile till they opened up the opposite side of the street. We joined hundreds of cars driving on the other side of the street and quickly moved down the road to some short cuts that I often like to use. Leaving that mess behind, we tried taking another way home, but when I saw lots of cars piled up on that road we tried an alternate route. Since that took us near Manalo Bridge we decided to take a detour and check in on our friends there.


After the typhoon

To our surprise, I saw that all their homes were either gone or under water. We had been texting back and forth with them earlier and knew that those in the lower houses moved to higher ground to stay with their neighbors, but I didn't expect to see everything covered in water. The river which was usually about 25 feet below the bridge was getting close to the level of the road on the bridge. I walked up the street looking for our friends and I found them under the tarp. Everyone was safe. Around 20 adults stayed behind while the rest of them, along with about 40 children, went to a local covered basketball court to wait out the storm.

My first thought was to pile all of them into my van and take them to our house, but they were worried about leaving their things and we still didn't know if we could even make it to our house or not. We decided that if we could make it to our place, we would leave a few of them behind to watch their things, but then take the rest - especially the kids. But first, Jessica, Christian and I would go ahead of them to make sure that we could get through. I gave them all the cash I had so that they could all buy some food and candles. Then we drove down the road for about a mile only to find the road covered in water.

I drove till the water was about knee deep and then turned around (much to the relief of Jessica). We tried four other ways which were also flooded out in front of thousands of stranded cars. One of them, the C5 Fly-Over near the Marikina River, was flooded about two stories high. We returned to the bridge and told them that we couldn't make it home and then began to look for a place for us to sleep. By the time we arrived at a familiar missionary guest house, the first leg of our adventure lasted about six hours.


(Click above for day by day accounts and photos of the week Typhoon Ondoy stopped Manila)