Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to Survive a Typhoon in the Philippines

Happy Halloween everyone! As my Halloween gift from me (and the Steves), I decided to write a scary story. So get on the edge of your seats, pop some pop-corn and get ready for a ride. This story is taken strait out of my journal dated May 18, 2008 (with some editing done.)

Well… I’m alive…
I’m now sitting here writing in the candle light, because the power will be out for another month. They said, the power lines were all knocked down, and they’ll have to do some re-lining to fix it.

It happened yesterday. The news told the people, signal number 1 typhoon. Which means it’s still light, so we were still going to work.
This was yesterday…

So we went on as normal, it was rainy in the morning, and we didn’t have much success… then in the afternoon, I equipped myself with a stronger umbrella and felt I was prepared. We went to a baptism in Baay for the Labrador missionaries. The Labrador missionaries, binmaley, the zoneleaders and us, all attended. We all started from the same starting point, and when we left, it was starting to get a bit windy. Me and elder saksak were laughing about it before we departed, they went THEIR way, and we headed towards Domalandan.

We arrived, and were getting punted at all our appointments. Me and elder shippey were laughing our heads off, because we had our umbrella’s fighting against the wind sideways. Our umbrella’s would fold under the intense wind, and mine was getting K.O.’ed. We found pride in being out in such weather while everyone was running around like it was dooms day. It made working a lot more exciting. By the time we arrived at Romulo’s house, my umbrella was completely destroyed. We went into their little house where we could barely all fit and sit down, taught them and blessed their house, and their family. And when we left the house we started noticing the land was starting to change. We even laughed when a banana tree fell over. Those banana trees are ALWAYS getting into trouble…

We decided that it was probably getting too severe, and we should probably stop working and go home. But we wanted to make one last stop. We went to the Canillang family. They brought us in, gave us warm milk, and insisted we stayed. We talked and laughed for quite awhile in the dark. (the power was out at this point.) Then all of a sudden we heard Hell starting to break loose out side. I told Elder Shippey that we had to go now. At this point, it’s about 5:00 pm, we were in Domalandan, miles from home…
The family warned us that there are no more vehicles. I assuredly told them we would be fine and almost looked forward to our little trek home in the rain…

We got to the street, and I realized, this is no game any more, this is serious. the rain was blowing in our face, and slapping painfully against our skin. I knew our umbrellas would be useless in this situation, and would just blind our senses from detecting dangerous flying rubbish. I grabbed my umbrella, and knew we were in for a ride. I was going to take that umbrella home as a trophy.

“lets run!” I yelled! As we started our long journey towards home, the wind resisting our every step, telling us we weren’t wanted, and to turn back. The rain was blocking my vision, and stinging into my face like a bunch of needles. Making me scared I might miss some rapid movement that could prove fatal. On our right, a tree snapped and fell over. The urgency overtook us and we were running for real actual safety. For our LIVES type of safety. We grew close to the school’s gym, and we saw the big titan tin roof being beaten up as if by a bully. We saw a long piece of green tin, just longing to come off, wanting to fly with the wind and join its team. “Watch that roof!” I commanded. The tin was rippling in the wind, competing with the typhoon for attention. If it had detached, it would have been able to split someone in half…
Instantly every tree and tin roof became our arch enemy, and lost all of our trust.

We ran until we approached Domalandan bridge. We’ve walked that bridge many times, and I knew it was about ½ mile long, and my instincts told me that I do NOT want to be stuck on that thing like this. We made it to a little ghetto shop right before the bridge, and took refuge…

We were drenched, and now cold. We didn’t say a word to each other, but examined our dreadful fate as the massive winds only grew worse and worse. The sunlight was diminishing, and the sound of the increasing wind was dashing our hopes that we would be making it home. What could we do? Who could help us? Who could we text? How to get our of this predicament? Elder Shippey conjectured that we could text the zone leaders and we could have the couple missionaries pick us up. That seemed like a good idea… so we asked for the lady’s phone to send our “s.o.s.” out. We sent the text and waited. The people invited us in, and cast us into a corner where we sat awkwardly, and waited…

The people inside moved along like we were non existent. I sent another “sos” another “flare” and we waited. And while we waited, I watched the most intense rain and wind I’d ever seen. I watched and heard as the entire land was being shredded apart with a roar. Outside the opening was just white, and the rain moved completely sideways. So fast, it just looked like a wall of water. It was at that point I realized how God could really just snap us like a twig if he wanted to.

So we waited for the reply that never came. We waited like 2 strangers in a foreign land. Dripping wet, in an abandoned corner, until finally the storm slowed to an almost stop, and we decided to face DOMALANDAN BRIDGE

What an eerie feeling it was, walking out of that shack, the dark clouds surrounding us, waiting to close in, trying to trick us into its trap. They looked at us patiently and excitedly for the command to come down and destroy us… but all was calm. I did NOT like the idea of being on a bridge with no escape when it started up again. Judging by the circular cloud formation above us, I figured we were in the eye of the storm, and it was a ticking time bomb until it broke with its furry again. So we booked it, and ran!

We ran down that endless bridge, but for some reason Shippey could take it, so we started walking. I explained that we were in the eye of the storm now, and it’s going to start again, so we need to hurry, but he seemed to think it was over.

We made it pass the bridge, and viewed the destruction of the land, and that eerie feeling returned, as I saw trees that were destroyed like a twig, and power lines broken and laying on the street and in our pathways. The sun was now gone. There was not a single light to be found, or vehicle to be seen, the once busy road laid empty as we walked down the center of the road. It seemed as if aliens took over and killed everyone and we were the only survivors.
As we walked, my prophecy began to be fulfilled. The wind (now at our backs) slowly started getting stronger and stronger, and the rain harder and harder.
“Are you ready elder shippey?”
“not yet…”
I wasn’t talking about running, but the second attack of the storm. It increased.
“Are you READY elder Shippey?!”
“Not yet!”
His ridiculousness starting to bother me, while dodging downed power lines incase they were still alive. The wind intensified, and was starting it’s attack again.
“well… I AM!”
Then I started running again assuming he would follow, as the sound of destruction commenced again. Not trusting any tin or tree again, and jumping over downed power lines. Elder Shippey made a good point that all the power was out any way, so there was nothing to be afraid of.

We made it to a members house and knocked… no one was there, so we carried forward, still a long ways from home, until we heard someone call out to us, “ELDERS!”
Hey this is familiar… It’s JR’S HOUSE! His dad beckoned us inside. So we took refuge again. They were all inside their cozy home and seemed like they were going to make it through the night just fine. They were even prepared with a big lamp. The mother instantly told us to change cloths and we were going to stay the night there. Hospitable of them… but we weren’t going to go there…

JR’s wife was happy to see us, but seemed disturbed. Her husband was still stuck out there! She wanted us to say a prayer for them which we gladfully accepted and I gave for them. Blessing that we would all come out safe and the house would be find, and JR would be fine too… after that I asked if they had a cell phone. They did, and so we began our “s.o.s.” again. We got it off, but were abruptly disappointed with the return message that said, “would not be sent.”

The weather grew strong again as I worked with the phone, trying to get the message through. And 10 minutes later it said, SENT. So now we just needed to play the waiting game. I tried to make small talk, and cheer everyone up, “so… how bout that wind eh?” We waited there for more then an hour, and finally we got a reveled reply from headquarters, saying, “are you guys fine? The couples are in AGOO, just stay there!”
Stay there? We realized that the only options we had were: staying here in someone’s house that we barely knew, or finish the journey in the dark abyss. I sent another text explaining where we were… meanwhile… we heard the storm get a skosh softer, Elder Shippey seemed aggravated that we had to stay there. He was ready to leave. He didn’t like staying there…

So we watched for a reply as he kept pressing on me for us to go, but I didn’t want to disobey our leaders. So I was torn. I wanted to obey their command, but I’m sure they didn’t understand, and the weather was a little better, and I’m just the kind of guy who likes dangerous things, but I knew this isn’t the time or place to be taking chances. This chance could be very critical if wrong.

So when you’re in doubt, don’t rely on your own wisdom, take it to the top. So I sat there and said a silent prayer. I felt we would be just fine, so with this confirmation, I said to my companion. “alright… Lets go!”

It’s now 8:00pm, and we’re back on the trail marching onward. We made it to Baay East. It was abnormally eerie to be walking around in the chaotic dark, and see cars lying in the middle of the road as if dead. They were all stuck because of the downed power lines. The roads became like the jungle gyms on the playground, and we had to climb through the downed wires.

We went over a little bridge and we marched onward to Lingayan crawling thru the powerlines, and helping the tricycleists trying to get thru too.
We arrived in lingayen. Which was just as eerie as ever, the market was all destroyed, all the tables and stands were knocked over. Signs ripped off of buildings. I saw someone loitering a tipped over vending machine, and all the power was GONE! The once busy city laid dead like a ghost town.
As we passed the Jollibee, I saw the silhouettes of a hundred people crowding for refuge.

Then this was when I found what it felt like to be in a movie like Independence Day where they have a big line of cars stuck in confusion, trying to run from disaster. They were still running and the headlights still on. as The people down the line were confused about what to do, and what was going on, and the lights revealed two missionaries with smiles and laughs on their faces with their entire cloths soaked as if in a swimming pool. Giving hope to the stranded people.

We finally reached the road we would have turned on, but the road was filled with giant trees glaring at us, and something inside said not to go that way. So we had to go the long way…

We turned onto the road into our neighborhood and found a bunch of trykes trying to get out, but there WAS no exits… they were all blocked by fallen trees. As we got closer, we got more and more excited, the visions of our own beds in mind, warm cloths…

We rounded the corner, last leg of the race! We were starting to celebrate! We see the house! There’s candle light inside! We broke out in song!
“I Just wanna go home!”
“I’m going home!”
We made it!

Which brings us back to the beginning…

Before we alarmed the other we were home, I made sure we fell on our faces and thanked the lord with the rain pouring on our backs. There were many close calls, and wrong turns we could have made to prove severe. Who knows that waiting at a house could have timed our journey perfectly so that nothing would fall on us that one road with all the trees was covered in tree branches in the morning.

We finished our prayer and then started cheering, as the inside of the house came alive. The door was unlocked instantly, and elder Doria gave us a big hug even though we were drenched. We were home, and each party was safe. (Ironically we came home right at 9:30. The time all missionaries are supposed to be home.)

The interior of the house was noticeably different. All the furniture was in one room. Turned out that our study room’s roof flew off! I went inside, and it was completely raining in the house!

We got changed, went up stairs, and all slept in one room. Listening to the winds beet upon our house, and destruction happening all outside as we slowly drifted off to sleep…

The after math:

I slowly woke up as the light got brighter and brighter. It was the beginning of a new day, a day with a lot of work that laid ahead. What surprised me, was how happy everyone still was, and how quickly everyone got to work. The people cleared anything blocking the transportation.

Everyone was united, “we have all survived the storm.” And were all unified in experience. We walked to church and viewed the destruction on the way. My estimates are:

10% of houses were destroyed
20% roofs taken off.
40% Some damage
30% Nothing wrong.

And now we live by candle light and we have no water, and no electricity. We have to do the dishes next to the pump, and we shower outside in our shorts next to the pump, and the kids yell stuff out to me because I’m white. We have no clean water, so we’re drinking the water from the pump, which I’m sure can’t be healthy since it’s a different color. We have to put deet all over our body at night to stop the mosquitoes from eating us. And the weather is Hotter than hot.
We sleep in our sweat, and you wake up just wet.

The End.

My Trophy

Our Roof that got ripped off

Destroyed houses

SIDE NOTE: None of these pictures were taken during the typhoon. but they do show geographical location.


Erin O'Brien said...

Amazing photos! Thanks for a fascinating post.

JBUDD NEWS said...

Thanks for the fascinating comment. ;)

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