flood in the philippines

Earthquakes and Floods

As I watched the news on television and silently prayed for the people in Japan (I have relatives living there and they are safe, alhumdulillah) my own encounters with calamities, albeit of a much lesser magnitude, began flashing through my mind. I have lived in the Philippines long enough to experience earthquakes, floods, and typhoons that uproot trees and send someone’s roof flying over to the next town.

I do not remember each one of them, but I do recall that each encounter was both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Early 2000 in the Philippines…

I was staying over at a friend’s place, along with a few other classmates, to study for an upcoming exam. It was a few hours past midnight when we first felt the ground move. Few seconds later the shaking got stronger: empty chairs moved across the room on their own, cabinet doors flew open, a flower vase crashed on the floor, books fell down from the shelf. I heard the creaking sound of wood as we hurriedly made our way outside the house. I was a student, miles away from my family, and the thought scared me. The earthquake lasted a couple of minutes. We stayed up the entire night, worried about an aftershock. In the morning, we drank a gallon of coffee, took the exam and passed.

A Year Later…

It had been raining continuously for three days. On the fourth day, I woke up to the news that classes had been suspended due to flood. “What flood?” I thought, parting the curtains and looking below from my third floor window. There was water everywhere. At that moment, the power went out. A few hours later there was no water in the tap. My roommates—a girl my senior and another a freshman doing bachelors in pharmacy—started packing their bags. “The water level’s not going to come down anytime soon,” the senior said, “so we’re going home.” I didn’t want to be left behind in the dark with no water and limited food supply so I packed my bag too.

It was two in the afternoon by the time I was on road looking for a ride to the bus stop. I was waist-deep into the water, walking carefully least I fall into an open manhole. I was surrounded by several other people, mostly students, who also wanted to get home to their families. I worried, among other things, about all the microorganisms happily floating about ready to infect me with a thousand and one diseases.

An hour later I saw this type of tractor approach us, the kind of vehicle where the engine was located high enough so that the water didn’t reach it. The kind man volunteered to drive the students up to the bus terminal. I climbed on immediately, grateful to be out of the water.

It was total chaos at the bus station. There were hundreds of desperate students and only a few buses. I eventually found myself a seat on a bus and was so relieved that I wanted to cry. “We can’t guarantee we’ll reach on time,”announced the driver. “In fact, I can’t even say if we can make it to our destination today because all the roads are blocked and bridges submerged in water.” Then he added, “But let’s try to get you all home.”

It was a long and frightening eight-hour journey (normally four hours). We drove very slowly, specially since one can’t really see where the road started or ended. I saw furniture being washed away, people sitting on their rooftop with their children waiting for the water to subside, and stranded people begging for our bus to take them in (except that the bus was already overloaded). I finally reached home safely to my family. It wasn’t wise of me to travel in that situation, but there was only one thing in my mind then: to be home.

Have you experienced an earthquake or a flood? What was your experience like? It is a very difficult situation for everyone, a time when man is completely defenseless against nature. May the Lord Almighty protect us all and keep us safe.

 Photo credit: REUTERS/Erik De Castro

19 comments

  1. I was in 1st semester of my B.S Hons I believe when a very scary earthquake hit Pakistan. 2006 probably.
    My cousins were yelling and one of them even got so scared that he suffered thru severe fever. I will never forget that day. I saw chaos at home and then more chaos at University. But yet it was nothing compared to what I saw on TV after that – other parts of Pakistan had got serious waves of earthquake and there were so many innocent people yelling for help. some buried under the stones,… some alive but not able to speak and … it was just too painful to watch.
    May Allah protect us all from such torments Ameen.
    Khanum recently posted..Dear God

    1. And yes, I forgot to mention the flood I witnessed when I was about 12 years old.
      devastating and kind of fun . Its strange to say fun but it seemed really a sea for playing at first to us all kids. we made paper boats and jumped in excitement but as soon as the water reached above our knees, the fun was over. It was a disaster.
      Khanum recently posted..Dear God

      1. Ameen to your dua.

        I wasn’t in Pakistan then, but I followed the news closely. That earthquake was really scary. So much damage and death in such a short period.

        And yeah, when you’re little, floods are fun at some point. I also went through the stage of making paper boats and playing in the water, oblivious that so many people are worried.

  2. Thank you for sharing your encounters Nadia. It is indeed very scary and sad. I am lucky enough to say that I have never experienced such disasters first hand. I have several friends in Tokyo at the moment. I am thankful they are all safe but am still worried over the current unstable situation of the nuclear power plant, aftershocks and risk of more tsunami. My heart goes all out to all those affected in Japan…
    Tien recently posted..A Day For Spicy Meatballs

    1. Tien, the instability of the nuclear power plant and the fact that so many people there are without food and water 🙁

      You are lucky to not experience calamities such as these.

  3. Japan is in my prayers.It’s a horrible way to lose lives,thousands at that.Sometimes it’s the crashing buildings that brings death more easily than without it.Well we are too deep into seeing and living in concrete houses than be able to switch to banana leaf roof tops,floors and all.So far I’ve been sheltered from quakes eventhough some parts here have witnesses tremblings and people have reported to have felt dizzy and fainted before.And we have the sprawling Indonesian islands to thank for.And I’ve also seen a twister once here and too at a very far angle.Alhamdulillah! The things we should be so grateful for…
    Lat recently posted..Life as Meditation

  4. Alhamdulillah, So far I’ve never seen any sort of natural calamities first hand. Sg is blessed with a safe geographical location, with Sumatra often having to bear the brunt of calamities such as typhoons and tsunamis. The only “suffering” which occurs here is low hp batt as stated in a local newspaper.
    I remember swimming in floods in Pk though, back in my village in NWFP. The water wasn’t too deep I guess for a bunch of 4 years old to swim 😀
    Nisa Ak recently posted..Im doing away with titles

          1. what an amazingly annoying compliment 😛 lol.

            I just realised, we have turned the serious looking topic look like a fun spot. Allah mafi… m sorry . bachpan yaad agya bus. :$
            Khanum recently posted..Dear God

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