INSTEAD of his school bag, Carl John Rentuza found himself carrying with all his might five kilograms of rice last Monday.

The 13-year-old moved as fast as he could, trying to salvage whatever food stock his family had left, while nearly six-foot-deep floodwater made its way up to the second floor of his family’s house.

“Naanad na mi sa baha, pero wa mi kapangandam sa pagkaon maong ako gyud gi-una og salbar ang among bugas (We’ve gotten used to the floods, but this time we hadn’t prepared food. That’s why I immediately looked for our rice),” he told SunStar Cebu.

While Rentuza saved their small sack of rice, Maria Batuto had to divide among her family of five about four cups of cooked rice and the leftovers from the night before. It was all they had the entire day, until the floodwater subsided.

The 68-year-old was supposed to go grocery shopping that morning, but was unable to do so after a heavy downpour swamped their entire community.

The Rentuzas and Batutos are among the more than a hundred families residing in Sitio Magtalisay in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City.

The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office has identified the sitio as the area in the city that is most vulnerable to floods.

Moderate rains alone could result in chest-deep flood, while a heavy downpour leaves them with water up to six feet deep.

Mabolo village chief Reynaldo Ompoc explained that this is because the barangay is the lowest area in the city.

In the barangay alone, he identified six flood-prone areas, with Magtalisay being the most vulnerable because it is below sea level.

“The area is like a catchbasin where all runoff water from higher ground goes and when the Mahiga Creek and Mabolo River overflow,” he said.

He said the flooding situation was aggravated following the development of the North Reclamation Area in the 1960s.

The other five flood-prone Sitios are Lahing-Lahing, Central, San Vicente, San Isidro and Holy Name.

To adapt, the 150 families residing in Magtalisay built two-story houses, with the first floor level having nothing but remains of rotting furniture destroyed by previous floods.

However, instead of the flooding situation that has plagued them for nearly six decades, the residents lamented that their greatest dilemma is hunger.

A community composed of urban poor settlers, the residents claimed that they can’t afford to fill their cupboards with emergency meals as their earnings are only enough to provide for daily needs.

Among the affected small business owners was Dionisia Franza, who makes P300 a day from selling spices in the first floor level of her house.

“I use whatever income I earn in a day to buy dinner. If there’s a flood, I have to close my store and when that happens, I’ll have porridge for supper without any viand,” she said in Cebuano.