WORST DROUGHT in 70 years declared the paper here in Welly. You can’t get any more eloquent than that. The Philippines may have its problems, it may be a daily overdose of drama back home and more than half of us live below the poverty line, but few problems are more urgent and gamechanging than the consequences of weather extremes, and this definitely qualifies as one here.
I have three memories associated with the extremes of weather, the most recent of which was when it rained for two days straight and then some some ten years ago, cutting off first our subdivision, and then our little group of houses from the rest of the subdivision, which was already cut off from the rest of the world. What little provisions we had at home were all but used up, and we relied on radio news to find out when we would rejoin the world.
When we were brave enough to venture out after a maya returned with an anahaw leaf :), we saw cars floating in miniature ponds, swollen streams and streets that were rendered impassable because the latter were even lower than the already-low main street of our subdivision. Our row of houses was fortunate enough to be sitting on the higher areas, but many others were not so lucky. Furniture, appliances and everything of value sitting on ground floors were damaged beyond repair, and this among many was the harvest of one of the more brutal storms that decade.
Another strong weather-related memory was an unlucky combination of a suffocatingly hot summer and the power crisis somewhere between the late Cory Aquino and early FVR years. It was so hot you couldn’t even move, and unmercifully there was no power during much of the day for either electric fans or if you could afford it, air conditioners (we couldn’t). It became fashionable and quite practical to purchase backup generators for the home and industrial ones for businesses, hospitals and the malls. The only good thing I remember about that time was the 50% discount on ice cream; practically given away by blackout-conscious shopowners who didn’t want an inventory of melted sundaes and popsicles messing up their freezers.
Two things I actually welcomed during that water-starved and blackout-weakened summer were (1) going to work where the offices were at least air-conditioned before the power outage was scheduled, and (2) the monsoon rains which brought a welcome relief from the blistering, exhausting and sweltering heat of the dry, dry summer which incidentally I always identify with Semana Santa where either you meditate in the city or vacation in the beaches.
The last memory is that of our very own drought back home (a year or two before Y2K), where literally the ground turned to dust and every breeze threatened to mutate into a sandstorm, the soil cried out for moisture and leaves turned orange, yellow and finally into brown, months before harvest time. I don’t think anyone would say I’m exaggerating, but it was a good ten months before anyone saw a drop of rain that year, and considering that the Philippines receives so much rain on an average year, the drought must have been catastrophic for agriculture, not to mention industries and manufacturing that need agricultural products as well.
Here in our part of New Zealand, it will take a good number of years to recover from the drought, and the dairy, beef and lamb and downstream industries have been all but written out of medium term planning until they have been properly resuscitated, rehabilitated and nurtured back to life after literally drying out from the drought.
Because the Wellington region (as opposed to Wellington City) is relatively compact and everything, including water consumption is easily measurable and desperate times call for desperate measures, government, media and every usyusero has understandably become OC over the issue. I overheard my favorite deejay broadcast optimistically that due largely in part to the total effort, weekly consumption has gone down from 128 million liters to 120 million, truly mindboggling both in the amount saved and the dedication to monitoring the figures. (imagine the time spent counting those liters!)
Daily radio broadcasts here remind us that all outdoor activity requiring water, washing of cars, etc. have been banned until further notice. Only the most crucial water needs like bathing, cooking and drinking are allowed now, and for good reason : for Wellington region, water has been free to household consumers for the longest time, and everyone wants it to remain that way, most of all Asian migrants like Your Loyal Blogger.
Thanks for reading and Happy Easter to all!
- Of Big Cities, Philadelphia Worst For People In Deep Poverty (roysrants.wordpress.com)
- Philippine Economy – “good or bad?” (grouponeecon.wordpress.com)
- It’s official: Houston now back in a ‘severe’ drought (chron.com)
- Rain, but not enough to end NZ’s dry (bigpondnews.com)
- Drought breaks as rain moves in (nzherald.co.nz)
- Worse drought news: No rain on the horizon (stuff.co.nz)
- Rain won’t be enough to break drought’s back (stuff.co.nz)
- Drought may cost the country $2bn – English (radionz.co.nz)
- My days with FVR (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Rain, rain nowhere, and not a drop to drink anyway… (mjwrightnz.wordpress.com)