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Philippines: State of National Calamity After Tropical Storm Sendong

A state of national calamity was declared by the Philippine President after tropical storm Sendong (international name: Washi) devastated many parts of north Mindanao Island, located in the southern part of the country. According to the government, 1,080 people died and 1,000 more are still missing after Sendong triggered flashfloods in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan last week.

Rubz shares the story of a survivor:

Around 10pm, she could hear their roof shaking. The rain was non-stop. Then suddenly, her mom and dad called on her because the water is rising up…They decided to climb a tree to hold on but one of their neighbor's houses came to them knocking the tree down along with her father…She jumped and jumped until she was able to grab on a big log. She rode on it over Cagayan de Oro River until she saw a family floating holding a refrigerator. She asked for their help and they helped her cling to the refrigerator. There were six of them hanging including a child…Because it happened during the coldness of the night, they couldn't see much but they could hear a lot of people crying for help…When daylight came, they noticed that there were a lot of dead bodies floating near them.

Overview of flood impact. Photo from Tony Alejo on Facebook.

Overview of flood impact. Photo from Tony Alejo on Facebook.

Mindanaoan’s house was damaged by the floods:

So much have happened ever since I woke up yesterday. Survived strong rains and winds, endured hours of brownout, found out that we didn't have water supply, found out that our humble house in Cagayan de Oro City also got damaged and that we have no choice but to face business losses. Still, my family and I have so much to be thankful for. All of us are safe and alive and able to help out those in need

Through the hashtag #sendong, netizens express their sympathy for the flood victims:

@jeffcanoy: Woman identifies a cadaver as her husband after seeing their wedding ring on his finger. #Sendong #heartbreak

@momblogger: Pls do not ever tell the victims “life goes on” at this point,. Trauma so fresh. They will move on to their new life at some point

@piacayetano: Don't ever think the little things u do to help #Sendong victims are insignificant. It matters.

This video shows the rising waters on Bayug Island:

Netizens are also active in spreading information about how to help flood evacuees aside from Red Cross and government relief efforts. Citizen media photos about the destructive impact of the floods are also posted on Facebook:

Damaged car. Photo from Alam Kana Nakin.

Damaged car. Photo from Alam Kana Nakin.

Flooded street. Photo from Alam Kana Nakin

Flooded street. Photo from Alam Kana Nakin

Scene inside an evacuation center. Photo from Beatriz Arcinas Cañedo

Scene inside an evacuation center. Photo from Beatriz Arcinas Cañedo

Flooded village. Photo from Rachel Monterona

Flooded village. Photo from Rachel Monterona

Pecier Decierdo highlights the need for scientific literacy to minimize the harsh impact of storms:

Although we grieve for the victims of tragedy caused by Sendong, we must not fail to learn from this event. Both the public and the government can help prevent a similar tragedy by learning more about how the Earth works and how its workings are being altered due to climate change.

Let this tragedy be a painful reminder to the public and the policy makers that in this day and age, making decisions based on a high level of scientific literacy is a matter of life and death.

Stuart Santiago wasn’t impressed with the speech of the president in the aftermath of the storm:

“hearing” the president wondering why illegal logging hasn’t stopped despite his order, why people won’t evacuate despite warnings, why people even build and live in risky areas, why rescuers have to risk their own lives to save people who refused to heed warnings — these do not inspire confidence that the president despite his super-powers is anywhere near to coming up with ways of mitigating the devastating effects of future sendongs.

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