MY house was under floodwaters for about 20 hours last Friday because of the devastating combination of Storm Mario and the habagat or southwest monsoon rains. My heart beat fast when I saw my refrigerator, washing machine and many other valuable things floating or submerged around the house. What exacerbated the entire situation was the water coming from the dams, which flowed through my backdoor and got trapped because the front door was sealed close. So while the floodwater in front of my house was only up to the thigh, the water inside my house came up to almost chest-deep. With the help of some neighbors and barangay officials, they were able to push the door a little to let the water out. I locked it early during the flood for fear that my things will again go out of the house and into my urban farm and beyond.
Lessons learned and some resolutions from this experience:
I have to get rid of a lot of things that I do not really use or need. More importantly, stop buying them just because they are on sale or they look so attractive on display in stores. So now, I am reviewing my things and soon I will have a garage sale or give away things to some neighbors or flood victims or throw things away.
Finally I saw how big my ref is. And I am now able to lower the temperature inside (that means lower energy cost). I was keeping some food past their expiry dates, leftover foods, unfinished wines and lots of my favorites—different cheeses, chocolates and tablea. I shall stop grocery shopping for a while.
I need to bring out all my books and Manila Times and other things that crumple when soaked. As my children said, I need to go paperless.
I need to stop buying shoes in the next three years or so (provided my feet do not grow any longer) unless I have more cabinets upstairs to stock them up. My sons would tell me to be less Imeldific as I am now if not totally simplify my life.
I will use, reuse, recycle, or upcycle some plastic and glass things I still have.
I will drink all the wines I have been saving for special occasions and buy only when the need arises.
I will change my door to steel or whatever so that it will not expand when soaked. The other day, I became a virtual prisoner inside my house because i couldn’t open the doors from the inside.
I will have an attic constructed to keep all the things I still want to keep in a safe and dry place.
I will tell my sons to keep their own things in their own houses so that I don’t have to worry about them during floods.
Some neighbors helped me bring our things up to the second floor at the start of the flood. They stole a lot of things and were caught by no less than our barangay chair Jose Palajorin, Jr. Also, I hired some teenagers from the neighborhood to help me in the clean-up last Saturday. They also stole cash from my bag and from my grandmother’s small glass container. I was looking for my coins after the floods in vain. Yesterday when I was collecting the trash, i saw it in the trash can upstairs, no more coins. And my purse has less money in it. I shall never hire or invite them again into my house but I will talk to them gently and put some sense into their heads or maybe I should tell their parents. But if I do, the parents will just accuse me of being anti-poor.
I will sell my house and lot to the highest bidder and find a smaller place in some high place. The only thing that is keeping me from doing this all these years is the sentimental value. I was born and raised and lived in this house my whole life (save for a few years I lived in Makati with my in-laws when I got married).
Do you have any suggestions for me? I have a lot of things to do and goals to set to make the next flood experience an easier one to handle. Meantime, let’s consume less and make less garbage. I notice that the floodwater from the street was very murky and smelly—a definite sign of our wasteful lifestyle and bad habits.
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