Saturday, November 03, 2007

It is Saturday

..November 3rd and it is today when I realize the magnitude of the damages caused by Noel through its unexpected pass in my country.

With little to no time at all this past week, working at the office, disconnected from my country's TERRIBLE pain, being suffered as I write this lines, due to the "tropical storm" called Noel. It is ironic how my job consists in dealing with people, lawyers, clients, from across the world, being up to date with what is going on in each jurisdiction and yet being so detached from my own reality, my people's reality.

On Friday, October 26th I thought to myself "wow, it is going to rain like hell", and the day before, while driving next to my mom a sudden rain happened, like nothing I've seen before (considering no storm was announced), and just as it happened, it stopped, and Friday the sky looked like it was going to "fall down on us", Saturday, October 27th, couldn't leave the house due to the heavy rain, Sunday, October 28th, the power light was cut off in my neighborhood, the heavy rain caused short-circuits in the system and light bulbs in my street started to exploit, with the weather not giving in I decided to go out, as I drive away from my house I thought to myself "I am going to regret this", and I picked my friend Raul at his place, as the house's security escorted him out -of his house- while holding an umbrella, and the song being played, simultaneously, in my car stereo I repeated to myself "I am SO going to regret this".

The rain seemed to stop, we arrived to Mix, and just as we were walking in the parking lot, started again, once inside we forgot about the rain and the almost flooded streets, drank a few bottles of wine, then met with 2 other friends, and although the hour restriction on Sundays established –until 12 am- the night was far from being over, rolled to a Casino -don't ask-, and afterwards "dinner" but as I refer to it at such hours "breakfast" at Adrian Tropical, and then home. And it was then, while driving alone in my car at around 4 a.m., constantly changing my route home since I could not pass in my car –a 2003, Toyota Corolla S- and turning the halogen lights of the car off –to avoid ruining them- due to the heights of the water in the streets I realized I was certain of what I said when I left home – I was truly regretting it- and my sole consolation was "I have two friends following me until I get home" and their constant light changes were comforting. Yet driving in my zone, my typical route home, which I love, not only for the peace, security and great location but a route I have walked many times in my childhood and adolescence, and so centric –absolute metropolitan area- almost cosmopolitan, with its sophisticated houses and towers and the "old school" vibe of many houses, old houses, my neighborhood, the 1st "high class" neighborhood in my country, and at the same time so close to the Colonial City, it was devastating to me, in a weird psychological way, to see so much garbage floating in my street, on a Sunday night, so much water, and there I was about to scuba-dive in my not so "high" car, but then again I was truly tired and I had 2 bottles of white wine down I just wanted to go to bed.

Monday, October 30th, pay-roll day, a day –along with the 15th of each month- in which probably no one fails to go to work, as I wake up with a hammering headache, my house's phone rings –it was 6:00 a.m.-, a co-worker, asking me if I am going to work, as I say "I guess, why shouldn't I?" and then "oh well, the weather I know, it hasn't stop raining and the sky is looking disturbingly ugly, what do you think we should do?" and her reply was " I guess we should go and if things get uglier then we leave, but take a cab, don't take your car, all streets, bridges and tunnels are flooded, I have no power light, but I was hearing the news in my portable radio and the word is that there is a tropical storm affecting us" –no kidding- I thought to myself and then "yes I believe that, yet how come no one said a word yesterday, nor Friday or Saturday?" –"I don't know"- she said. And there I was taking a bath, about to fall on my knees from the headache, and as I got out of the bathroom with my towel still covering me, I went straight to bed saying "the rain is not stopping any time soon and my shift does not start until 8:30 a.m". –it was 7:00 a.m., as I started to feel worse and worse, my mom asked me "what did you have for dinner last night?" and I said "mofongo" she replies "uhmm, did you have alcohol prior to that or all together?" and obviously my answer was positive and the "it was wine" clarification seemed important, so I did, and her response to that was " I think you are dealing with an indigestion" and as I do believe my mom is right, at least most of the times, on her predictions it was in that same moment when I felt this nauseating stomach sickness, my face heated and red colored, as my head felt like exploiting I ran to the bathroom and everyone knows how that story ends –no need to detail the gruesomeness of it- but keep in mind it took about 5 trips to the bathroom, after that 1st one, for the headache to stop and then I took my sinusitis medicine to ease my condition and rest a bit, after all I had almost one hour to get to work, therefore I went to bed.

Another phone call, this time to my cell-phone wakes me up –again-, this time at 9:00 a.m., another co-worker, asking me where I am and if I am going to work, I said that I was going, which was completely true, but I was going to arrive at around 11 a.m. because I was dealing with an indigestion, and she said "if you're feeling sick don't come, the streets are a disaster, I am only here cuz' after I drove in this weather be damn sure I'll get some work done before I go home", I obviously took her suggestion I thanked her for the call and went straight to bed, AGAIN. I woke up at 4:00 p.m, called her back and asked her what was up at work and she informed me everyone left at around 2:00 p.m. "everything's fucked up in this country" –she added- and there I was with no power-light and my mp3 player uncharged –it is also a radio- (and yes I later remembered my brothers cell phones have AM and FM radio etc), at around 6:00 pm the power light was reinstated and it was all over the news "a mother nature's disaster" and it was all bad, but all we could see was the city of Santo Domingo, the national district, to be exact, and the National Emergencies Comission speaking of the unexpected storm Noel, etc., "UNEXPECTED" I said, how is a storm unexpected? -with great disbelieve, which I still profess and maintain- this is not a Tsunami, this is not an earthquake, this is a tropical storm which forms itself -just like all storms, hurricanes, tropical depressions, cyclones, etc. etc.- with visible rapid gust, sudden rains, unstable weather changes, -things that are visible and lead into easy predictions from the experts in these matters-.

And as simple as it sounds to just say that a low pressure system formed over the Central Caribbean (south of the Island) and that it was on early Sunday morning that this low pressure system evolved as a Tropical Depression, and rapidly became a Tropical Storm., threatening us, directly, the consequences of that threat becoming a reality are far from simple.

I will not make this matter a political matter, like most people has done so far, that is not the problem, the problem is: many are dead, many are missing, even more have lost everything they own, and many of the same have lost all they love – partners and children-; this entire –and already past week- I have been so caught up in work, office work, is not even funny, most days on a 17th hour journey, tired enough to avoid contact with "the media", no late night news and no newspaper.

Today, is the day when I have stopped to – far from smelling the roses- catch up with what really went down and still is going on across this Nation. Devastation is an understatement, desolation also is, tragic and dramatic situation is as light as a Paulo Coelho novel, it is dreadful (alarming/disturbing/horrible) I have no damn idea of what truly is, to be honest, I am part of the lucky ones who only suffered not having power light for a few hours, I did not lose a loved one, I didn't have to choose between a loved one or another, to save, because it was absolutely necessary to make such "selection" in order to have one or the other to survive, I didn't lose my home or/and house, -people lost both, their home (as in where and with who your heart is) and house (their material place of safety) because a river dragged all out, and drowned everything there was to be drown, I am shocked of the images I have laid my eyes in today, what I have seen…

People drowning in the eyes of cameras, of witnesses too afraid to go in …afraid to die, people screaming for help as rivers drag them in, … a mother, a mother holding her baby up as she only has her two arms out of the water, trying to prevent her baby for drowning… and then THANKFULY, being rescued before …before;

a kid was filmed as the remorseless waters of a river took his life, …and I was too busy analyzing a possible letter of reconsideration for an objected TM, replying messages, and overall bitching about how lousy people in other countries work..

as heavy and prolonged rainfall hit most of the country, with rivers overflowing their banks and causing major flooding, landslides and the destruction of bridges throughout the country…

bridges collided and left communities unable to communicate, leave, enter, nor reach in any way, not by phone, earth, air or water, and I was cranky because I was unable to eat properly due to all my work, I was cranky inside of a safe building, inside of an office, communicating with people –nice, smart, funny people-, having their company, with phones, internet, music, air conditioner, food, even candy… and there were kids being dragged by rivers as their parents were unable to save them while clinging to their younger kids, and I am devastated of my unconsciousness, sadden with my behavior – which I will not justify with the "ignorance" card -, I am even more sadden today -as I realize my terrible human failure- because it is in this same day that there are people calling me up to ask what am I planning to do tonight?

What are my plans for tonight? -I was asked- in the exact same moment I was watching a kid drown in dark brown waters –a kid who drowned a few days ago-, someone's son, someone's brother, someone's nephew, someone's grandson, a kid whose body has probably not been found to this day and will probably not be found to be buried in sacred sepulture, like his parents would most definitely want, and he is only one of the many…

And I wonder, what does anyone in their right mind might think I will be doing tonight?

The latest bulletin (No. 13) from the National Emergencies Commission issued last night says that the death toll as a result of Noel has risen to 82, while 43 people are still reported missing, 16,353 houses were affected and the total number of people displaced by the flooding is now at 65,412 –and rising-. Of these, 40,774 are staying with family or friends and 24,638 are in the 126 shelters set up by the authorities; 90 communities are cut off, and 46 roads and bridges were affected by the storm yet transit to the south western city of Barahona has been re-established.

The most affected areas are Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, San Cristóbal, Peravia, Azua, Barahona, Pedernales, Independencia, Bahoruco, San Juan de la Maguana, Santiago, Puerto Plata, Espaillat, Salcedo, Duarte (especially Bajo Yuna), María Trinidad Sánchez, La Vega, Monte Plata, Moseñor Nouel, Hato Mayor (especially Sabana de la Mar), El Seibo (especially Miches), Sánchez Ramírez, Dajabón, Montecristi, Santiago Rodríguez, La Altagracia and San Pedro de Macorís.

It is Saturday, November 3rd and according to weather forecasts, intermittent rainfall will continue for the next 48 hours.
48 hours of rain… which combined with the over-saturation of the soil, due to all previous rain and flood, will cause further flooding and landslides, so I hope the number of displaced people increases for their own sake, to prevent further tragedies, who should be assist, like currently are, with safe shelter, food, medicine and medical assistance.

About the bulletin I just mentioned above, and world wide news reporting numbers, numbers of deceased, magnitude of damages and the quantifications –estimated- to "fix" them, the numbers of displaced and all sums made,…I have to say I don't know about numbers, just like everyone reporting them truly know nothing about those numbers, after looking the monstrosity of the devastation NO ONE, and I AM CERTAIN, can know for sure how many …or how much…

All we can do is pray, all we can do is lend a helping hand, all we can do is donate whatever we can, including our time, contribute in any possible way, contribute…just HELP.

It it is Saturday, and I am sad…,
it is Saturday and I know I love my country, my people,
it is Saturday and a piece of my heart is missing, it is Saturday yet our hearts beat synchronized..
it is Saturday and I definitely do not feel like dancing,
It is Saturday and I am Human.


HELP, I beg you:

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