by Cheryl Piccio ABS-CBN News, Houston
HOUSTON, TX — When Jad and Bell Destajo bought their first home 5 months ago, it was a dream come true for their young family. That was before Hurricane Harvey.
The rain, the wind from Harvey, that wasn’t the problem. It never directly hit them. But all the downpours that followed were overflowing the rivers, channels, and creeks — including the one just blocks away.
Then it began slowly destroying their home.
“Sobrang lalim na ang tubig, lagpas na sa akin. Pero kailangan ko talagang puntahan ko yung boat. Kasi yung water is actually running hindi sya stagnant. So kailangan ko talagang lumangoy ng mabilisan.”
They waited too long to evacuate the neighborhood. All they could think about is how they can get out alive.
“Eto kasama nya -im holding my baby with a bag. The first boat that came in can only hold 2 people. Yan lang ang naka lapit sa kanila…Grabe, iba talaga ang feeling na yon, iba talaga pag buhay at kamatayan, surivival o kamatayan mo ang naka-salalay. Ibang iba , you go all out. You try to do everything.”
The floodwater was like a river, and chest high. They fought the current while holding the children above water to reach the rescue boat.
But when they got into the boat, Bell saw that she was bleeding heavily — a complication from the recent cesarian birth of her youngest child.
“Sabi po ng OB ko, fully bed rest ako, bawal daw ang mag-buhat o mag-lakad ng sobrang layo. Wala akong choice kailangan kong buhayin ito kailangan king mabuhay dahil ang baby ko. Kailangan kong lumangoy.”
The devastation was not only limited to homes and possessions. When the water receded, kababayans are now left with the monumental task of picking up the pieces and rebuilding their lives.
The consequences of this destruction have left families struggling day to day for many, the future is just as full of problems, as the present.
The Destajos have since returned to their home and taken out the flood-damaged furniture. Like 80% of Houston’s flood victims, they didn’t have flood insurance.
“BAgo po namin binili itong bahaywe made sure na sa flood zone ba ito o hindi? Sabi po ng builder naming .005% dawn a mag-kakaroon ng flood daw ditto. Hindi raw required sa amin ng flood insurance.”
Today, they stand on bare concrete floors, surrounded by exposed walls, half of them now torn away.
They are wondering what the future will hold, and how long all this will take to get better.
“Parang mag-uumpisa kami ulit sa scratch kak deliver ko lang. 2016 and 2017 is the toughest year for us.”
“Hindi po naming alam kung saan kami kukuha ng pang survive namin pang araw ng araw. Pero Malaki po ang pasasalamat naming ng lahat ng tumulong.“
The Destajos have a Facebook fundraiser page and a GoFundMe where they are accepting donations.