Flood-ready houseboats

October 2011 News Melchor Amado - opinion.inquirer.net

Every time there is news about houses being devastated-some partially, others completely-by big floods, I am always reminded of the story of Noah and his gigantic ark. As told in the Holy Bible, people first ridiculed and mocked Noah when they heard he was building an ark big enough to save mankind, animals, birds and other living creatures from extinction because of an impending deluge.

If government could not find a comprehensive and lasting solution to excessive flooding in flood-prone communities in many parts of the country, perhaps it is time to seriously consider building houseboats there.

I am not, however, suggesting that we follow Noah's example by constructing an ark as large as the one described in the Holy Bible to accommodate every person and living thing in constantly flooded communities. The houseboats that I have in mind are very much smaller in size compared to Noah's, but they should comfortably suit the needs of an ordinary family just like a conventional house. However, those who can afford to build expensive and luxurious houseboats like the ones featured recently in Jessica Soho's television news-magazine program at GMA-7, are free to do so.

Living in houseboats, residents need not go to rooftops or move to higher grounds for safety. Household items such as furniture, appliances, electronic devices, clothes, foodstuff and other things will remain safe whenever floods occur.  Government agencies and volunteers from the private sector will no longer have to rescue residents in flooded areas and bring them to evacuation centers since they are already safe in their respective houseboats.

This is not a novel idea because houseboats have been around for centuries. At present, not a few countries have houseboat communities. As a matter of fact, many families belonging to the Badjao tribe and other settlers in Mindanao still prefer to live in primitive bancas and makeshift floating houses even during this modern and technologically advanced age.

Surely, there are architects, engineers and other experts in the construction industry who are capable of designing houseboats that can stand firmly on dry ground, like an ordinary house, but can safely float as well when needed without straying from their original locations.



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