Tropical Storm Sendong (“Washi”) – December 17, 2011

Another first for me here in the Philippines, as Tropical Storm Sendong (international name: Washi) took an unexpected turn and came much closer to Dumaguete than expected.  Our power went out shortly after 6:00am, and the rain and winds quickly followed, increasing in intensity.  We had to close the doors and windows to keep the rain out, and as the skies continued to darken, we lit candles in order to see our way around the house.

Over the next few hours we listened to our battery-powered radio for updates to the storm activity here  in Dumaguete.  These reports were intermingled with Christmas and popular music.  We watched as the drainage systems along the road outside of our house began to overflow and water flooded into the street.  Three small trees were knocked over, blocking the road around the corner.  As ceiling leaks began to appear, we gathered towels and buckets to collect the water.  After a couple of hours, the radio went dead – I thought it was the batteries, but the station had lost power and went off the air.

By 10:00am the rain began to lighten, as did the skies, and our power was restored around 10:30am  (we were very lucky; most were without power for the remainder of the day).  We were extremely fortunate here in Barangay Daro, unlike many who lived by the Banica River.  An early news report yesterday noted that a family lost their five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter due to the floods; we have since learned that at least 50 families’ homes have been destroyed, and these families have been temporarily relocated to schools in Batinguel.

This morning we had bottled water delivery, as we are still without water service.  I asked Jon, the delivery man, about his family and house following the storm, and I was stunned to learn that his house, and all of their belongings, is completely gone.  Yet here he is, up the next morning, back at work.  Unbelievable.  My husband and I just looked at each other in shock, and my husband pulled P500 out of his wallet and respectfully offered it to Jon as a small token of assistance.  At first he politely declined, but we insisted, and he then graciously accepted it.

I never cease to be amazed by the strength and resiliency of the Filipino people.   Just this morning, only a day after this storm, our neighborhood church is in full swing — people are praying and singing Christmas carols… and today, they are proudly singing the Philippines National Anthem.

So many Filipinos lives have just been devastated by Sedong.  I encourage anyone that can offer assistance to please visit the following link to the Philippine Red Cross.  We have all heard standard fundraising efforts state that “no donation is too small,” but this is so true, especially here in the Philippines.  The daily cost of living here is dramatically less than in the U.S., Canada or Europe.  What you might consider a “small” donation will go incredibly far here, so please consider sharing some Christmas spirit for those so in need by donating to the Philippine Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org.ph/donatenow.

Current information from ABS-CBN News about Sendong may be found here:  http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/

After enjoying life in this incredible country for 2-1/2 years, this is something very near and dear to my heart, and I thank you for your generosity.

Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy 2012 for all of us.

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