As the world prepares for Christmas and New Year, the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in Northern Mindanao, Philippines were wrecked and inundated by flashfloods caused by Tropical Storm Sendong (International Name: Washi) on the late evening of December 16, 2011 until the early morning of December 17.
Thousands were killed, many were left homeless, and countless dreams were dashed in a season of merrymaking.
Two weeks after the tragedy, people are slowly picking up the pieces and trying to live normal lives again.
ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/01 January) – From the Mandulog bridge along the Iligan-Cagayan de Oro highway, one can clearly see how the lethal combination of floodwaters, mud and logs rammed into Barangay Hinaplanon late evening of December 16 to the early hours of December 17.
The riverside village is now a vast wasteland. Piles of logs and debris from the houses that once stood there are scattered all over and in the distance, the indelible image of destruction of the old Mandulog Bridge, two of its center spans lying in parallel direction down the river. Read More »
ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/28 Dec) – True or not, but some residents in the coastal barangay of Santiago here claim that almost every night, they are hearing voices crying for help coming from the pile of logs swept from the mountains during the flashflood dawn of December 17.
One of them is fisherfolk Jaime Jambre, in his 50s, who said that there are certain spots in the pile of logs where the voices come from. He has been hearing voices of children, as well as the elderly, crying for help three days after that fateful day.
“On the third day after the flood, I heard cries for help. The voices you hear, you can really feel those people calling for help are in great difficulty,” he said in the vernacular as he coils his nylon string used in catching fish, himself standing on top of the logs, maybe one of which destroyed his house.
A decaying 20-foot log with a diameter of about three feet floating in the rampaging flood waters swept his house, made only of some light wood, plywood and bamboo. Lucky for them, his family was already leaving their house when the log hit it.
“With the log’s size, my house vanished in an instant. More logs came shortly after that not even a post got left behind,” he said.
Jambre recounted that the flood waters, carrying logs, came from different directions leading to the sea.
Julius Nadayag, 34, and his family were swept into the open sea by the strong flood current. They clung on to logs and other floating debris, wood from houses among them. Luckily, they were not carried too far from the shore.
“I’m sure there are still bodies trapped beneath the logs. We can still smell the decaying corpses. They must be the ones crying here at night,” he believes.
He recalled that it was high tide and the waves were strong when the flood came to Barangay Santiago.
The logs, Nadayag said, came from the nearby Mandulog River and slammed into houses.
“The morning after, a lot of bodies, apparently those hit by the logs, were recovered in the neighborhood. The number could have easily risen to over 100,” he said.
But one of his neighbors with his two-year-old son did survive despite being trapped in the pile of logs. Nadayag and the other neighbors happened to chance upon the father-and-son tandem, then helped them out.
Some of the residents of Barangay Santiago have sought shelter in the evacuation camps while some built their makeshift shelters. Those who opted to stay in the area sometimes group together and sleep in their neighbors’ shelters because they are disturbed by the crying voices at night, Nadayag admitted.
Jambre is worried it may take some time for authorities to totally cleanse the shore of decaying bodies.
As of this writing, 481 deaths were already recorded in this city and 891 more in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City. (Keith Bacongco/
Volunteers at a warehouse in Cagayan de Oro City prepare water containers and water purifiers for tropical storm Sendong victims in this city and Iligan. These water containers and water purifiers are provided by Oxfam Philippines through its local partner Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC).
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 December) – Playing too much computer games makes some sense, sometimes.
When I got a message from Maj. Jacob Obligado, chief of the 10th Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion, saying that as of 8 a.m. on Thursday, they had so far filled up 18 M35 trucks with relief aid for flashflood victims in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, the PC game Company of Heroes flashed in my mind, particularly the “Red Ball Express Mission,” which is based on history.
The renowned Red Ball Express was the codename for a massive logistics operation of the Allied Forces during World War II in Europe involving about 6,000 trucks and at least 400,000 tons of ammunition, food and fuel.
The huge convoy had become an easy target by German forces but with Germany’s reduced air power after the breakout of D-Day in June 1944, attacks on the convoy became rare.
But unlike the wartime Red Ball Express, which ran for four months, this version of massive transport of supplies was much smaller and carried not war materiel but precious relief aid for the flashflood victims.
The last time I saw a massive military convoy – with trucks towing several howitzers - was in February 2003 in Pikit, North Cotabato, when a battalion of Philippine Marines was deployed during the Buliok war. Read More »
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 Dec) – The Army’s 10th Infantry Division will transport on Friday, December 23, at least 21 truckloads of relief aid to the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan for the victims of typhoon Sendong.
Maj. Jacob Obligado, chief the 10th Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion, said the relief goods were donated by several individuals and organizations in their effort to extend relief assistance to the calamity victims.
In a text message, Obligado said the effort is dubbed as “Pagtinabangay Caravan Alang sa CDO ug Iligan,” which is a public-private partnership facilitated by the 10ID. Read More »
(I’ve added an approximate path of Typhoon Sendong (international codename: Washi) based on PAG-ASA’s Severe Weather Bulletin as of 10:30pm of December 18,2011 )
Here’s my attempt to map out natural disasters, mostly major ones, that hit Mindanao. The green markers indicate the past incidents while the red ones represent the areas hit by typhoon Sendong (international codename: Washi) on December 17, 2011.
You may navigate through the map if you want to view it a little bigger. Just click on the markers to view the details.
These are based on the data of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and few news reports quoting concerned local government agencies. For accurate data, you may also search the website of the NDRRMC.
If you think I might have missed some disasters that hit Mindanao, please feel free to post your comments or suggestions.
With this data on the map, which part of Mindanao you think it’s still safe to live?