Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Philippine Flooding


It’s been a week since I finished my 30-day blogging challenge. I completed it and had thought I’d be able to blog every day after. As usual more important things occupied my time and I’m writing this post offline while waiting to board the plane home. I thought my flight out of Manila was going to be cancelled last Monday because it was raining to hard on Sunday evening. I was glad that most of my colleagues had left on Saturday and Sunday. Most of them have not experienced our version of thunder storms and I didn’t want them to be traumatized.

I woke up at around 4:30 in the morning on Monday and had no problems with my flight since it stopped raining. It started pouring just before I boarded the plane. I felt that the sky was commiserating with me – sad that I was leaving home again. I was pretty concerned though that the rains seemed to be coming down non-stop and I feared that it would cause wide-spread flooding. I guess I got that sixth sense on floods after experiencing Typhoon Ondoy. I was monitoring Dr. Mahar Lagmay’s tweets and checking Project NOAH often to see how things were progressing.

By Tuesday morning the situation had gone worse and I got a ping from government for help in putting information together. By noon a group of volunteers got in touch with me to help and the Google Crisis Response team had offered to help. It was a long day. Information had to be put together, shelters/donation centers/rescue efforts mapped. Lots of going back and forth across different time zones and finally the page was up by midnight.


The effort was made successful by tireless volunteers "Team Showercap" -- Ka Edong, JP Loh, Arnold Gamboa, Ros Juan and many, many others across the country  -- the Google Developer Group, Google Business Group, Google Geo Advocates, RERs and mappers and with help and encouragement from MLQ3 and PCDSPO who helped us get data. (There was so many, I hope I did not leave out anyone). Indeed the Filipino bayanihan and “waterproof spirit” has once again shown the best of our culture. The initiative was also proof that all the mapping efforts of the local community is very useful. The time you have volunteered have come to good use.

Some will probably ask why I continue to do this – mind you it’s very stressful. I think information is key to prevent lives from being lost, to save lives and to find our loved ones in times of distress. I cannot personally volunteer to help physically because (1) I’m oftentimes far away and (2) I might be the one needing rescue if I help in physically-demanding efforts (hehe).