Meeting Haiyan: The first hand experience

 


It’s been more than a week since the super typhoon, but I remember it like it just happened.

When I woke up at around 5 am, it was dark, since our electricity was already cut a few hours ago. Since our bedroom had glass doors, I could clearly see the trees bending and about to break, the clouds in a dangerous grey. I knew that Haiyan was bearing its teeth, smiling evilly. I knew that it has landed in Guiuan, the eastern side of Samar which was a three hour drive from Tacloban. I had three hours to get my family ready, as it was estimated to hit our city at eight that morning. The house began to creek and the wind began to whistle. We joked around, saying that the wind knew how to whistle and my sister could not. Little did we know, that the wind would soon whistle harder.

Since my mom couldn’t get home from Manila because of a work training, it was just me, my three siblings, my grandmother and my aunt at home. I started my day like it was normal, deciding to cook chicken for breakfast. Our kitchen was located at our grandmother’s house, a door away from our own house. The wind outside began to pick up, the rain accompanying the storm. My siblings went to my grandmother’s room, which was located on the first floor. Since I could not check on the house myself, I asked my brother to go to our living room to make sure things are fine. 

That was the last normal thing that happened.

The roof of our garage began to strip itself, hurling towards my grandmother’s garden. Their dog was barking furiously, but we were afraid to go out  because of the wind. The water from the outside poured through the roof, the drip drops becoming a slow stream of water. When I finished cooking, I checked on my brother who still did not return. Our main door, which was a huge and made of wood, was threatening to burst open because of the wind. He blocked the door with two of our strongest chairs, whose width covered most of the door. 

I went back to my grandmother’s house to check on them, my feet were met by rainwater on the floor. One of the wood that framed the window suddenly flew towards the floor, and water came rushing in. Just when I thought it could not get worse, one of the wooden panels of our roof fell. With the two holes providing the water a way to get in the house, I led my grandmother and aunt towards our house. I went towards our room to fetch my phone, but the room was already wet. The culprit? Our door was already open, the glass sliding door before it was already in pieces. The roof was shaking, our ceiling fan looking like it was hanging by a thread. I frantically called my brother and my sister, and we tried to push our bed towards the door. But it only made matters worse, making the other door open with force. We decided to take the important things towards my brothers room, like our files, gadgets and such. The heavy drawers felt like lightweight, as the adrenalin started to kick in. Outside you could see the outline of the EYE of the storm, hovering and as threatening as it could be.

My grandmother’s house was already full of water, which could be seen from our window. My grandmother began to cry hysterically, mumbling and praying. My sister began to cry too, feeling hopeless and praying that our house wouldn’t be destroyed. I tried my best to calm them down, suggesting that we go downstairs for breakfast. When my eyes landed on my brother, his arms were clutching the wooden chair, the door still fighting the wind. He told us to hurriedly eat, his voice shaking as he used his strength on the chair. We all hurriedly lit our candles, prayed then began to eat. 

But when I heard my sister shriek, I noticed the water in our living room. Water was rushing from our main door and from the door leading towards our grandmother’s house, and another rush of adrenalin began to surge in my veins. I told them to pack everything; the canned goods, the biscuit and even the newly cooked chicken, and run upstairs. My brother was still struggling with the door as we packed everything in our plastic container. The water was already at our knees when we rushed towards the stairs. By the time I reached my brother, which was just seconds, the huge window which was as tall as our main door exploded, the water surging towards us. My brother let go of the door as he helped my grandmother who almost fell because of the impact of water. 

They all went upstairs, and I was left behind as I remembered the lamp and the matches. But by the time I stepped onto our living room the water was already at my chest level. The match, which was in my mouth as I carried the lamp , fell onto the water as I screamed for my brother. All our furniture began to flow towards me, the heavy chairs and desks blocking my way. In that second I thought that it was the end, I thought that I would die.

When my brother peeked from the stairs, I began to swam frantically towards him, giving him my things. Our dog swam beside me, reaching the stairs before I did. I don’t know how I did it, but I stretched my leg and climbed the tenth stair and ran towards the second floor. The wind coming from our room blew as hard as it could as I went towards the girl’s room. It was spacey, and the farthest room in the house. It was also the only room that had minimal water on the floor since water only came from the roof, which was just luckily small drips. 

When we got there we were all shaken, and began to pray the rosary. It seemed to calm us, though the wind sounded like a huge car revving up, like vrooooooom. The roaring of the wind began to shake our house like an earthquake, deafening our hearing as our ears seemed to pop like we were inside a pressured airplane. We began to cover the documents with our blankets, insuring that they would be dry. That was when I checked the time: it was only nine in the morning, four hours since I woke up. We tried to eat, but food seemed to lose its taste. When my brother and I checked our window that faced our stairs, the flood reached the third step from the top of the stairs. And outside (we looked through a broken window that faced the west side of the house) the water was taller outside than inside. My brother and I feared that the water would enter the second floor, so we planned to climb our double deck bed in case. We went back to the room to soothe our crying grandmother and sisters.

But do you know the best part? We were soon laughing, joking as if there wasn’t a storm outside. There were moments when we would be quiet, and the wind would take it as a cue to roar again. For two more hours we stayed in that room, praying more, quivering from the storm. And when we got the strength to go downstairs, my heart dropped to my stomach with what I saw. 

Our two gates were broken, and the one stuck to cement fell towards the house. Our two big windows were broken, the door still intact but and had a lot of scratches. All of my mother’s big vases were broken, leaving only the little ones. The floor was covered in mud and uncooked riceAll of our pictures were either smudged or covered with mud. . The furniture were all scattered, none of them in their previous places. Shattered glass were everywhere. And when we got to take a look outside, it was worse. Every house was either see through, had no roof, or washed out. The small stores were flooded, and roads were covered with trees. 

The storm was gone, but our problems merely started.

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Phew. I tried my best not to cry as I wrote that post. It was simply nerve racking. I will post some pictures of our house on the next blog post. Above you can see a new portion of my blog labeled “The Haiyan Experience” I will post the eight days that I stayed in Tacloban after the storm, before we moved here in Cebu. Please follow my blog if you’d like to read more.

On a lighter note, I was published on the “Thick Jam” website, my story is the first you’d see on the site. If you want to read that story, which was submitted a week before the storm, here’s the site: www.thickjam.com

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22 Replies to “Meeting Haiyan: The first hand experience”

  1. Thank heaven that all of you, including your dog survived that typhoon. I am very glad to see that you are back on line and writing, I have been wondering and worrying and praying for all of you over there. I will certainly go read that post you wrote on thickjam.

  2. This is is a difficult time…I hope that things improve quickly for you and all the others affected by this devastating typhoon.

  3. All we got to see was the news about the Phillippeans. You lived it first hand. How terrified you must have been, it sounds like you and your brother were so brave and held the family together.<br />We were so worried about you in our group and were so happy to hear you made it through this terrible time.

  4. I&#39;m so pleased that you and your family are safe! I did think of you that night, and when I saw the photos in the media the following day, I was praying that you would publish a blog post letting us know you were ok! xxx Sending hugs and my thoughts to all the people who encountered Haiyan xxx<br />

  5. Oh my god, how scary. We have been watching the coverage of the devastation here on the news and I can&#39;t even imagine what you all must be going through. Please be safe.

  6. My sister in law is from a small town there and she now lives in the US but her family is still there and their home was also hit. I feel bad for everyone wish there was something I could do. God Bless you hun and I will be praying!

  7. OMG, I watched it on the news and could not imagine how horrid and scary. I am glad you are okay and your family but terribly sorry you lost most of your things. Prayers for your family and country.

  8. I was so worried about you. I am so happy that you&#39;re ok. Your experience was so nerve wracking and I&#39;m happy that you all had each other for support. So very happy that you&#39;re now all safe.

  9. I can&#39;t imagine what it must be like – I think I would be in pure panic mode. I really hope things start coming together for you and your family soon. x

  10. I have read your blog for a few weeks and when I didn&#39;t hear from you for while after the storm, I had thought the worst. I am so thankful that you and your family made it through. Your stories are so important and I look forward to reading your upcoming posts.

  11. I am so glad you and your family survived this storm. My prayer are with all of you. It is amazing how families will pull together during a crisis. Sounds like you are very lucky to be a part of a great family.

  12. WOW. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in such an honest, raw manner. I&#39;m so glad to hear that you and your family are okay. Please keep us updated on your situation and let us all know of anything we can do to help! I admire your tenacity and courage in facing such a monumental, life-changing event.

  13. That is crazy scary! I can&#39;t imaging going through something like that! I hope everything is okay and that what isn&#39;t okay will get better!

  14. This is just terrifying and I am so glad that you are safe. I have been praying for the people of the Philippines because I can&#39;t even imagine the horror and the loss that you have all gone through.

  15. Well I am so glad that you all are okay despite the horrific experience you all had to go through! I almost wanted to cry just reading your experience. Sending positive thoughts to you all as you start to rebuild from this storm &lt;3

  16. I am just glad you all survived. I had been wondering what had happened to you and your family.

  17. I have been wondering how you were doing as I had not seen a post from you in a while. I am so glad you are okay. I can not imagine what everyone went through and I pray daily for all the victims.

  18. Wow, Le-an, I feel so bad for you, your family and the people in your country. What a horrible thing to go through. I worried about you the whole time you were gone from the blogging world. I am very interested in reading more about your experiences and am so thankful that you survived.

  19. I can&#39;t imagine what it&#39;s like to go through something like that. I know it must be awful, but I&#39;m glad you&#39;re alright.

  20. OM gosh it sounds like such a scary experience, I am glad you are safe and congrats for being on Think Jam

  21. I thought about you from our group and hoped you were ok through it!

  22. Good thing you are safe now and you were calm enough not to panic during the tougher part of the ordeal. I remember when Baguio was in shambles after the earthquake, it tool us 10 years to recover.

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