Advice from an experienced flood victim

I got this article through the one of my yahoo groups. Thought it would be a good read for everyone especially after what happened during the Ondoy typhoon.

From an experienced flood victim
By Gwendolyn So

Unbeknownst to many, my family and I are experts when it comes to flooding. By this I mean that for almost 10 years when we lived in a low part of Sto. Domingo Street in Quezon City , we experienced flooding INSIDE the house at least once a year and if I remember correctly, sometimes it was twice or even thrice a year.

The first time it happened we were in shock, but as it happened more and more it became routine. Here are some nuggets of wisdom that may help:

1. I learned that once the water reaches knee level, the gates can’t be opened anymore because of the water pressure. We thought we still had time to take the cars out but realized we were trapped. That time our cars submerged. Make sure you know which area near your residence is considered higher ground and take your cars there EARLY.

2. Do not despair so much if your cars submerge. They can be fixed. It’s expensive and takes a long time for the smell to go away, but it’s not the end of the world. After the flood, just let the car dry. We were still able to use our Hi-Ace and Mitsubishi Lancer despite their having been half submerged in floodwaters.

3. I learned that heavy stuff, like the ref and shelves, FLOAT. So every year from then on, we would TIE DOWN heavy appliances like the ref (too heavy to carry upstairs but in latter years we did lug it all the way up to the 2nd floor), the big shelves with wedding souvenirs and knick knacks and my dad’s collection of wine. How did we do that? Tie them to the windows.

4. Adrenalin will give you superpowers once you decide you’re not afraid of a little water and start saving what you can. In my case, it was my collection of books. They’re not rare first editions but regular books. However, I love my books and I’m not letting them drown! I was able to move and carry our heavy sofa powered by my body’s own adrenalin hormone.

5. You can have fun in the midst of disaster so I took out our cameras and starting taking pictures. It was to make everyone have a good laugh as we surveyed the chaos around us, the cockroaches and rats swimming by, the black inky spots of oily stuff occasionally floating around.

6. Apparently, no matter how much you’re enjoying yourself frolicking in the water and saving what you can, once the cold water reaches your chest (especially your nipples), you start to shiver and it gets hard to breathe. This is the time to give up and go upstairs.

7. If your electricity stays on, go to the switch box and turn off all the electric outlets downstairs but not upstairs.

8. Cleaning after the flood is a pain. Once the waters recede, you are left with mud everywhere. They stick so you have to get the hose and start using the walis tingting (how do you say this in English? It’s a broom made of just think twigs/sticks tied together in a thick bundle). You just keep the water running and sweep, sweep, sweep like there’s no tomorrow.

9. You must scrub the walls with disinfectant. If you only rinse with water, it will still smell. We used Lysol. Scrub, scrub, scrub like there’s no tomorrow.

10. First time water got inside our house, we didn’t know we had to use Lysol and that the drying process is super vital. So, after a few days, there was this nauseating smell and later we found molds growing everywhere! We had returned the furniture and appliances to their normal places and the walls behind grew molds. Yuck!!!

11. We were still able to use our ref that floated in flood waters. Just clean and clean and dry and dry.

12. Once electricity is available, get out all your fans and dry everything thoroughly.

13. Yes, paint will peel off and wooden drawers and shelves deform. Salvage what can be used. Once they dry, it’s still ok but sometimes the drawers get stuck because the wood expanded so you have no choice but to destroy it because icky water is still trapped inside.

14. Wait at least 2 to 3 days to dry everything. Use fans and hairdryers. Do not, I repeat, do not be in a hurry to return stuff you saved to their original places.

15. Have this mindset: Ah, it’s good Im now forced to do a general cleaning of my house. Now I have no choice but to do it.

It is easy to go insane after this kind of calamity, to despair of the material things we lost (especially the cars), but please be thankful you got away with your life and that of your family and loved ones

18 thoughts on “Advice from an experienced flood victim

  1. 12. Once electricity is available, get out all your fans and dry everything thoroughly.

    err.. about those sockets that were submerged in the flood, its not really a good idea using them first without spraying something on them so that they won’t spark or create a fire in the house. my parents spray something in it after the flood had receded and we left it to dry for 10 minutes. after that we could plug in appliances. Its much safer if we do that.

  2. This is great advice! I’ve been really blessed that my home hasn’t been flooded in yet, but in case it is, I’ll be sure to take note of your tips. Thanks and blessings!

  3. I can easily relate with your tips. The backyard of our house in Bocaue faces the river. Once or even more times a year, we also got the flood and everything you described happened to us …and more. Vivid images I can still recall are the good things and deeds that came out of these. Visits and concerns from relatives and friends checking on us, if and how we survived are foremost. Nothing beats a hot meal or freshly baked pan de sal from a sister in law or cousin. I don’t live in Bocaue anymore but the passing of Ondoy just made my folks who are still there, tougher, more resilient, forgiving, flexible. Though this was the worst, highest water they’ve ever experienced, they treated it as just like the past years. It’s a big dot deal but they survived. When I visit next month, I am sure I will hear a lot more stories to add to what I already heard. I can’t wait.

  4. thanks for sharing this… 🙂 it’s our first time that flood reach inside our house… walis ting2 is very powerful! 🙂

  5. Philippines have typhoons. U.S.A. have hurricanes.
    Damages are the same, except floods insurances.
    Prepare ye to all prone areas where you live.

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