he death toll is still rising and reports of more families displaced and persons injured by Typhoon Sendong (international name 'Washi') are still filtering in from the storm-stricken areas across the province of Negros Oriental.
This typhoon struck home. I've lived in Dumaguete City almost all my life and this storm has been the worst so far. We were trapped in our house on Saturday, Dec. 17, after flood waters made the roads in our neighborhood impassable.
It rained all night long of Dec. 16 and the winds were really strong. We woke up to a power outage, flooded roads, dead phone line, and text messages from friends and relatives whose houses were flooded.
No one expected it to be this bad. The February 2009 flashflood that ravaged Dumaguete City pales in comparison to what Typhoon Sendong left in its wake.
Along with a couple of reporters, I went around the city on Dec. 18, the day after the floods inundated most of Dumaguete.
Choppers were circulating overhead. I received a text from the Capitol Information Officer who said the governor was leading a team of people making an aerial inspection to assess the over-all damage the typhoon caused. The evacuation centers were teeming with families displaced by the storm. The roads were muddy and strewn with boulders of fallen trees and branches. A truckload of soldiers passed by, on their way to the disaster relief centers to help pack relief goods.
When we got to Sibulan, the town next to Dumaguete, we saw collapsed houses, mounds of mud along the roads, torn clothes and household appliances strewn across empty lots where houses once stood.
It felt like a war zone. "This must be how Ground Zero feels like," I thought.
In the evacuation centers, where it's noisy and filled with now homeless families, despair lay thick on the air. People were moving about, mothers hushing their crying babies, women swapping sob stories of what they lost during the storm, uniformed social welfare officers handing out plastic bags filled with relief goods, and children with mud-streaked faces running around. And throughout all this, I could almost touch the hopelessness in their eyes.
The local government is still collating the data on the damage and lives lost to Typhoon Sendong's wrath. But no amount of hard facts can fully plot the destruction on the lives of the people that the typhoon left in its wake.