When the next tropical storm hits Mindanao, it may be my hometown’s turn to count our dead. Nababaha.com, a flood mapping website maintained by the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Geological Sciences, provides a flood hazard map of General Santos City. The map shows parts of Gensan that could be submerged in more than five feet of floodwaters should a downpour of Ondoy or Sendong proportions fall on the city.
Some of the identified high-risk places have already been flooded in the past during heavy rains. The city, however, has never been hit by a typhoon or at least, not in recent memory. It is surrounded by mountain ranges that shield it against tropical cyclones.
My hometown’s reputation for being typhoon-free has lulled us into the same kind of complacency that proved fatal for Cagayan De Oro and Iligan. These cities also rarely experience typhoons. They also have mountainous terrains that residents believed would protect them from powerful storms. And yet Sendong happened. Floods happened. Death happened.
Viewing flood indicators on a Google map is one thing. Seeing the actual places that could be ravaged by an impending disaster makes the fear all too real. Below are pictures I took of riverside communities in Gensan.
Purok Puting Bato, Barangay Calumpang
Silway, Brgy. Dadiangas West
I’m hoping against hope these would not turn out to be the ‘before’ photos in an aftermath of a tragedy.