MANILA — Tatalon, the most populous district of Quezon City, suffered an unprecedented level of flooding, with floodwater going up to as high as seven feet.
But the plight of the residents there was complicated and made more hellish by fire. While their homes were being inundated in record time, fire started razing many of them. The residents suspected electrical causes. “We had called the Manila Electric Company to cut off the supply of electricity when the water started rising,” said Zoraya Tera, a resident of Agno 66, a barangay in Tatalon.
But a family of five, one of them was a pregnant 22-year-old, died first of electrocution before the electricity was finally cut off. The residents had been evacuating in droves for fear of drowning, electrocution and fire.
Tatalon residents told Bulatlat they relied on each other to evacuate and find places where they could relocate. “If we did not help each other, there was no one else to rely on,” one of them said.
Still, even if the recent flooding and fire were unprecedented in severity and in the fact that they occurred simultaneously, Tatalon had often suffered fire or flooding. Just last year, a part of it burned down. “As far as I know the barangay was prepared for flood, they have a banca ready,” said Mariano Alda, 54, community organizer in the area for Gawad Kalinga, a non-government organization.
But residents of Tatalon barangays Agno 66 and 68 made no mention of any banca from the local government. As for the fire, Alda reasoned that there was obviously no preparation for putting down a fire literally during a storm and flooding.
Like residents of Marikina, it was the fire and flood victims of Tatalon themselves who were cleaning up. But in Tatalon, the residents were shoveling not mud but wet ashes and charred wood off what remained of their homes.
Some residents recalled being handed relief goods by an aspiring councilor. Another probable candidate, a relative of Quezon City mayor, dropped by, “as in she just dropped by and looked,” one victim said. To get their hands on needed relief goods, they mainly rely on relatives to be at the right place at the right time. They appeared surprised to be even asked about what the government can do to be of help. (Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)