I think after any disaster, you know, it seems like if you have any problem with this guy or that guy, you can forget it through the storm, you know. You have one goal in mind and that is to get back to normal or to get beyond this part and then … We can play cat and mouse later, but for now, let’s be just a team and do this thing right.
Yeah, it is, I think the community was working together before, but I think this storm kind of just reinforced that and helped kick start what we need to do, so it was really … So in a way, this storm is a blessing in disguise, in a way, because it united in our effort to do some of the community work here in Falalop.
We did this before, I mean, but not to this extent, we just prepare for a storm, we’ll tie down our house and that’s about it. This one, we moved people to the shelters and then we kind of organized, made sure every shelter had a [radio]. So all through the storm, we were communicating.
How was it through the storm, what was it like?
Well, it was bad (laughs). To the point where some people, you know, we know that they need help at some shelters, but you know, we can’t, there was just no way people can get there because … if anybody attempt to get out, I think we’ll have some casualties. It was smart that we just stay in shelter until after. For us, my sister and brother-in-law were just next door, and they, their house just… the roof just flew off. And a small kid, not even a year old, was with them. Maybe not even six months, was staying with them in the shelter, so they were just like in the corner of the building riding out the storm. Early that morning when we can get out, we can see, then we went and bring them to the shelter.
Were you scared?
Ahh … yeah. I would be lying if I said I was not scared, but you know. It was, in the beginning it was kind of fun, you know. We were enjoying it because we had our tuba [palm wine] with us, you know. Usually when we drink in our circle, other people come, but you know, if we have all our tuba and only three of us there drinking, so you know. We were enjoying that. And then when it started kicking in, we said, okay, I’ll just put away the tuba and start worrying about this because it seems like it’s going to be bad. So we just … and we were repairing the shelters during the storm because the partition moved. At one point, the doors blew out on one side. We were trying to … we were in water all through the night.
Water from the ocean?
No no, coming through the window. It was … what’s that, we have the … not window shutter but, plywood and tin roofs on the windows. They still come in, we still have water coming in, so … It was, we were just walking around in water, sweeping out the water from the inside.
What could you hear happening outside? Was it really loud?
Very noisy. I mean, when the wind come, feel like it’s, the pigs and we can tie down. Not the, it doesn’t tie down but you know, just a way to … I managed to take some pictures, you know. But you know, I cannot say, just the sound, it was … Inside, we just see people walking around sweeping.
How long did it last?
For the whole night, actually. I think it’s … it was 9:00 that I think was really … because we were still drinking before 9, so you know it’s okay. By 9:00, we know that it’s not going to be just a regular storm. From 9:00 all the way past 3:00, even in the morning when we were out, you know it’s still coming. It’s like there’s bad weather and the wind comes back and it’s really bad. I think the whole day and all night and the next day, it was.
Did you get to fall asleep at all or were you up all night?
All night. I don’t remember when I went to sleep the next day, but I was up all night and the whole day, so … I guess I was very excited about all the damage and all that’s happening and so … I don’t know what was happening, but sleep was not something that was priority then.
What was it like when you walked outside for the first time after?
I keep thinking of, like a war zone, you know? That’s what I kind of associate it with, you know, these pictures that you see after a war, just everything’s down, you know. That’s what it was like.
Were you surprised?
Ah, yeah. I know it’s going to be bad, and … I didn’t expect all that house to be that, you know, the damage. I know the trees, yes, but not buildings. Actually even my building, I didn’t expect it to be like that, you know, to be that … We’ve been through some bad storms before, but …
You were probably too young … were you too young for Ophelia?
No, I was four years old for Ophelia, so …
Do you remember it at all?
I remember I was with my old man. We were the only two in one house, but it was next to the ocean. I know that when, after we go through the eye of the storm, that’s when we moved out of there. I just know that he took me out to be with where everybody is. I guess there was something that happened during the storm. My brother died in that storm, so I guess that’s why they removed us to be with everybody else, so that they can go do some search or something. I was with him all the time during the storm.
I’m sorry about your brother.
That’s … what it is, you know. Nothing you can do about this. But we were very fortunate with this one, that no one, not even no one get hurt to the point where people know about it or will talk about it. So it was … I think we’re very lucky.
Were there things that you would do differently if you could? If there was another typhoon, would you change the way that you prepared at all?
No, I don’t think that we could do anything … other than, for us we did, we brought some nails and a hammer with us because we knew we need to do that. I know some other shelters, they just secure their house, their shelters, and then just ride it out not knowing that the storm would be so bad. Maybe make sure that we’ve got nails and hammers and things to do repairs during the storm. Otherwise, I think what we did is good, you know. Just stay in the shelter and ride it out and … be there before, you know. I think one good thing is that the storm came at night, so everybody was inside. If it was during the day, I’m sure somebody would be out there, curious to see what’s happening, you know. And that’s when things happen.