By Philippa Day
ILIGAN CITY, Philippines, 20 March 2012 – Twelve-year-old Hannah Monsalan lives in Mandulog, one of the villages worst-hit by the flash floods that swept through northern Mindanao in December, following Tropical Storm Washi. The equivalent of one month’s rain fell overnight, swelling the Mandulog river to a destructive torrent, which crushed hundreds of families’ homes.
Hannah’s own small home was picked up by the swirling floodwaters and smashed into a large coconut tree. She survived by clinging to a small tree until she could be rescued. “I was swimming and I was screaming. And then I could no longer find my mother,” she said. “My hair got stuck in a pile of wood, and I was suddenly under water. I thought it was the end for me. Then I swam for safety.”
Her mother did not make it.
And in the wake of the disaster, her entire community was left vulnerable, surrounded by stagnant water and threatened by waterborne diseases. Many families were without shelter, and many children were burdened by their memories of the floods.