Flood economics (Ondoy series part 8)

The damage to infrastructure and agriculture by typhoon Ondoy and now Pepeng is estimated to have gone over PhP10 billion. It’s like hard-earned money going down the drain. But which now sounds like an oxymoron considering that the clogged and inefficient drainage systems were behind the flooding in the first place.

not just a clogged drain

NEDA must be crazy to even think that the effects of the typhoon can increase local economic activity what with all the household and vehicle repairs that are needed, public construction, retail demand to replenish lost property and an increase in overseas remittances from workers whose families were affected.

If they said these to people who saw their houses and possessions floating away, I’m sure these people would’ve spat on their faces.

property lost

Each time I get out to go to work or to buy something from the store, I always want to ask the people I meet how they were during the flood. But I always hold back my questions because I’m afraid to learn how terrible their experiences were.

Yes, the victims of the recent floods are coping. No matter how difficult they try hard to. If it were just house cleaning or washing soiled clothes I’m sure they’d be a hundred percent recovered by now. But some lost all their property. And some lost their only source of income.

I’m not surprised that the day after the flood I would already hear shouts of “bote-dyaryo” and “sirang plastic papalitan.” Even Manong Gulay was back in business. It’s still “isang kahig, isang tuka” for these people. Even Ondoy’s wrath couldn’t change that fact. They do not have the luxury of time to clean up every inch of their houses or whatever’s left of it, because they need to start working to put food on their tables and into the cold stomachs of their family members.

palit ng sirang plastic

In an effort to simplify living conditions at home and to make cleanup efforts faster, I took the liberty of throwing out things that we don’t normally use, even if they were in good condition. Father’s bodega was raided. The storeroom’s contents were half gone. The first sacks I threw out were garbage and useful stuff altogether. But when I realized how some kids literally swim through the garbage sacks to get something they could sell or take home, I began to sort out all the stuff I throw out more carefully. Everything that can still be used like kitchen utensils and plastic containers I put in one box. Recyclable materials like broken plastic and metal parts which can still be sold to junk shops went to another sack. Paper and cartons went to another container. Other household items that we want to give away we put on display so anybody can just come up and bring them home.

swimming in sacks

By this time our ground floor has been cleaned up and our storage areas now more organized and “flood-proof.” We’re back to work and will get our paychecks soon. If there is even such a thing as flood economics, I hope that opportunities borne out of a devastating typhoon such as Ondoy was able to help the little folks more than the capitalists making profit out of our distress.

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