Abuyog, Leyte – Barangay Buaya was right by the sea, which meant that it was at constant threat of being overcome by waves, as with other island-barangays. In fact, in order to reach the community, travellers need to take a one-hour boat ride from the town proper and bravely cross the Pacific Ocean to get to the village. Brgy. Buaya also had two rivers that treacherously rose during bad weather, causing flooding to different areas in the barangay.
These circumstances are bad enough on their own for Brgy. Buaya, but add Typhoon Yolanda to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. Things could have turned out horribly for this small island-barangay, but the perseverance and dedication of a group of residents, with support from the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), proved that they could beat the odds and rise from the difficult situation they are faced with, even with a challenge as big as ‘Yolanda’.
Maria Concepcion Abina, more fondly called Inday by village folks, shared that on the eve of ‘Yolanda’ on November 7, she and the other volunteers were busy working on their 150 linear-meter flood control sub-project from Kalahi-CIDSS to do what they can to keep their village safe. “Gabi na kami nahuman, mga alas-otso (We finished late, around 8 pm),” said Inday. The reason for finishing work late: their drive to secure what they dubbed as the “danger” zone, the point where the two rivers in the barangay met and the area which they anticipated as the main source of danger once ‘Yolanda’ hits. According to the residents, it was not just the flooding that was the problem.
Once these rivers overflow, they produce the onslaught of rushing waters, with a current strong enough to drag people away. This not only made the residents fear for their lives, they especially feared for their children as well. Inday, a mother of two, described their sleepless nights during bad weather, saying, “Dati hindi kami nakakatulog ‘pag umuulan, kasi may posibilidad na kailangan mag-evacuate (In the past, we could not rest easy when it rains, because there was always the possibility that we will need to evacuate).” Their fear, fuelled by their determination, drove them to work hard to secure the danger zone. At the same time, they secured the materials they still have for the construction of the remaining works to ensure that these would not get washed out during ’Yolanda’. They knew that should these get washed out, they may end up losing the chance they were given to protect themselves from the rivers. Still, even with the care and their efforts, they felt fear, because they knew how strong the currents could get. Julie Pasaral, 43, a Kalahi-CIDSS volunteer, admitted, “Nung una natakot kami na umapaw ang tubig mula sa dike dahil sa bagyo, pero sa awa ng Diyos hindi naman (At first, we were afraid that the rivers would overflow during the typhoon, but with God’s mercy, it did not).”