Sendong Survivor: The Story of Alma Jomaree A. Catalan

Earlier today, my sister’s classmate named Alma Jomaree A. Catalan, a resident of Macasandig, Cala-cala, Cagayan de Oro City, visited us. She was one of the victims of Typhoon Washi. She shares her testimony on how she survived during that dreadful night.

This is her story…

She arrived in their home pass 9pm last December 16, 2011. Around 10pm, she could hear their roof shaking. The rain was non-stop. Then suddenly, her mom and dad called on her because the water is rising up. So her mom and her siblings decided to evacuate, while she and her dad decided to stay in the house. After a few minutes, her dad was frantically calling her to go outside because some of the houses of their neighbors (those that were made from light materials) have already been swept away by the flood. They decided to climb a tree to hold on but one of their neighbor’s houses came to them knocking the tree down along with her father. She couldn’t breathe because a lot of tree trunks that went with the water and the house materials were over her head. She jumped and jumped until she was able to grab on a big log. She rode on it over Cagayan de Oro River until she saw a family floating holding a refrigerator. She asked for their help and they helped her cling to the refrigerator. There were 6 of them hanging including a child. Her father was nowhere to be seen already. After a few minutes of free flowing over the river and because of the rushing pressure, the refrigerator turned upside down. When she climbed in the refrigerator again, there were only three of them left – the child, the child’s mom and Alma. The other three were gone. Because it happened during the coldness of the night, they couldn’t see much but they could hear a lot of people crying for help. They passed by the bridges of Cagayan de Oro City but no one could help them because of the rushing waters. They rode on the refrigerator until they were pushed to Macajalar Bay. They rode on the refrigerator all the way. When daylight came, they noticed that there were a lot of dead bodies floating near them. It was scary but they were thankful they were alive. A few hours later, they were rescued by a barge and was brought to El Salvador. When she asked around, she was informed that 200 people were already rescued before her but none of it was her dad.

She survived that tragic night. His dad is still missing until now. Her left ear is still bleeding. The doctor at the evacuation center informed her that her ear drums were punctured because of bumps she got. She also got bruises and bumps all over but some of them are healing now.

We asked her if their house is still standing. She said no. They don’t have a house anymore and they are living together with her mom and siblings at the evacuation center at Macasandig Elementary School. Still hoping to hear news of his dad’s whereabouts.

Alma Jomaree A. Catalan is just one of the thousands of people who are in need of help here in Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City and other affected places in Northern Mindanao. They need not only food but also medical attention, medicines, underwear and a proper shelter.

If you want to help, there are many ways to how to send help for the victims of Typhoon Washi. If you want to help Alma, you may leave a comment here and I will make sure your help will reach her personally.

To all who have read this, please continue to pray for all the victims that they may recover from the lost of their loved ones and the trauma of their sad experiences brought about Typhoon Washi (Bagyong Sendong).

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Lifestyle Mommy Blogger and Virtual Assistant from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Aside from doing product reviews and events coverage, she blogs about solo parenting, homeschooling, and things in between.


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