We got lucky. We’re in a house whose windows we can open, whose floors aren’t sunk in a human-deep flood, whose walls are still stable and erect, whose roofs haven’t flown off. We were lucky. There were many who weren’t.
TS Rolly was a Ravager. That’s what was said in the news. Yesterday, when we left the house for church, we closed the windows and barred the doors, thinking we won’t get to come back that night. And when we do, our house would probably be half-sunk in a flood of muddied waters the day after the storm passed our region.
I was awake early Sunday morning, doomscrolling on Twitter to get proper updates straight from the source. It hit Catanduanes just before anyone was awake. Winds howled and tore through the place like it was a tiny diorama made out of carton. Terrible.
The rise of Rolly
News outlets said that Rolly (International name Goni) was a compact monster; meaning, the wind bands were compressed into its furiously gusty body. It wouldn’t take up a massive space in the map, but it would do immense damage to any region it comes across, making it horrible enough to be named as the Strongest Typhoon in 2020. But let’s not get our hopes up; 2020 isn’t over yet. There are a lot more opportunities for life to terrify us.
On Saturday, there was no sight of the storm. Not even a feeling. The day was bright and the sky was blue, but people around us knew it was a warning sign. Back then, before the dreadful Yolanda attacked Bicolandia, almost the same path as Rolly, the day before the storm was peaceful and quiet. My neighbors were playing their karaoke out loud. A party before a catastrophe.
A sickening calm
On Sunday, we left the house with no raindrop in sight. Nothing, just the heavy weight of the gray clouds looming over us. That day, church was going to be our refuge. I was ready to sleep on the floor.
And then, during the service, the sun was peeking through the clouds. I had hope. Maybe it wasn’t as worse as we thought.
At least, for us.
For many others? It was the worst. The strong gusts of the wind swept through the shore and smashed the homes. Subdivisions in Bicolandia were flooded. Families were missing. Livestock drowned. Buildings dilapidated. In one tweet, I saw a hanging bridge twilling midair as if the storm was playing with it.
And people wading through the waters just to escape the greater flood
LOOK: Residents in Albay look at destroyed and submerged houses and save their remaining belongings after a flash flood brought about by Typhoon Rolly.— Philstar.com (@PhilstarNews) November 1, 2020
📷: STAR/Edd Gumban
Live updates on #RollyPH: https://t.co/jSPBm4oCkh pic.twitter.com/hCzBqhSyli
Until now, comms in Catanduanes, where TS Rolly made its first landfall, is still down. People are desperate to contact their kin, that’s why they’ve been trying to stir the government with #NasaanAngCatanduanes hashtag on Twitter. Batangas is severely flooded. Many places in Luzon, including Zambales, have experienced the receding of their beach, only for the waves to slam with their full strength later.
What happened to us
We did not stay in the pastoral house come Sunday afternoon. We went home. Our car drove through the downpour and lots of puddles along the road, but our subdivision, by the miracle of God, was almost dry. We were tucked in bed when TS Rolly sprinted across our region. We woke up to the sun.
The sky is still gray but there’s a cheerful light shining through the window where I’m sitting. We got lucky. There are others who didn’t, and they need our help. If you can pitch in, even just a little, please consider donating to any of these organizations (all of them run by capable, compassionate institutions, including our very own Vice President Leni Robredo):
CALL FOR DONATIONS— GABRIELA #DefendFilipinoWomen (@gabrielaphils) November 1, 2020
The GABRIELA Alliance of Filipino Women calls on all its members and allies in the Philippines and overseas to mobilize relief efforts for our fellow Filipinos affected by supertyphoon Rolly (international name: Goni).
Help. Donate. Volunteer.#RollyPH pic.twitter.com/WA3hnkB3br
SAAN AABOT ANG 20 MO?— JuanSpark Youth Leaders (@JuanSparkPH) November 1, 2020
In preparation for the aftermath and relief initiatives for #RollyPH and #SionyPH you may donate at least 20 pesos for the purchase of relief packs to be given to local communities and devastated areas.#ReliefPH pic.twitter.com/VASQ3wkB4Q
*I am not affiliated with any of these organizations, but should you require further information, please contact the person indicated for each org. Thank you for all your help.