I’m Milo Miles, I’m 19 years old. I’m from Falalop, Ulithi.
Where were you during the typhoon?
Attending college. PCC, Palau Community College. And that’s when the typhoon hits.
Did you know the typhoon was coming?
Yeah. We’d been watching it online from the internet, ever since it’s still far until it got hit.
When did you first hear that it had actually hit?
We were watching online and then we were reading like, what’s the … we were reading stuff that they posted. They were saying about the closest point and how it hits, and then the next day, we’ve seen the pictures of the islands, how … I think it was Brad Holland who posted online. Yeah. That’s when I see how bad and how strong the typhoon was.
Did you see pictures of your home?
Yeah. (Laughs) I see pictures of my home.
What was that like?
I couldn’t recognize it was my home. I could hardly tell. There’s no … all that’s left is the floor. The walls are flipped to the sides, and … it’s a mess.
Who still lives here? Your parents?
Yeah. My mom and dad and two brothers.
How long until you could actually talk to them after you saw the pictures?
I think one week after, and I talked to them on the radio. They got a radio. I was using one back in Palau and calling them.
Was it hard not to be able to talk to them for a whole week?
Yeah, I was thinking about them the whole week and I’d been praying for them. I been praying for all the peoples.
When were you able to come home?
I wanted to come home as soon as possible but they wanted me to stay back and complete my school and then come. But it’s tough, it really effect my grades and all the things.
Because you couldn’t concentrate, it was hard to concentrate?
Yeah. I could hardly study.
Did you have to wait until June to come home? When did your school end?
I think the end of May. I wait until May and then I come.
What was it like to come home?
It was strange. It’s messy, and … but it took courage for me to continue on my education, to come back and help. So, yeah. I have the courage inside still fighting for it.
What was it like when you flew over on PMA, when you first saw?
I don’t know, it’s like … it’s like all trash or stamping area. It’s hardly, seeing houses that are standing. I’m seeing place that I didn’t see, before it’s blocked but now everything’s down, we could see from afar.
What about the high school? You spent four years at the high school?
Yeah, the high school. The high school used to have a white roof. When I came, it’s all black. I noticed the roofs are gone. In fact, my class was the last class who graduated from the school. We graduated last year. It’s all broken down this year.
I saw your pictures from your graduation actually. You posted some on Facebook?
How was it seeing your family?
I feel lucky. They still alive, no one got hurt. Yeah. I was kind of blaming myself, I wasn’t there during the typhoon.
Yeah. Since everyone’s still alive and living, that’s good. I’m going to go with the flow.
Was it hard to rebuild now? All the houses?
Yeah. Most people are … they didn’t complete their education so, they don’t have that much to buy the materials. But people are still trying to build as much as they could. We have local houses, we use coconut palms for roof. Now, we couldn’t, there’s no coconut leaves anymore. They all snapped and fall, so I think we got nothing.
How long do you think it will take? Do you think the island will ever look the way it used to?
I would think it take a year or a few months. Yeah. I think it take years.
What about the reefs? What do you think the effect of the typhoon was on the reefs? Have you been diving?
Yeah. Before the reefs were kind of bright, and … right after the typhoon, it all went black. You could just tell that some of them have died. I think the reefs saved a lot of people from the waves. Yeah. And it’s good to know how the cycle of corals grow, it’s a living thing, it’s not just a rock … and how it’s protected, how to manage. Yeah. I’m interested in …
What do you want to do after you finish college? Do you want to do something with the ocean, or something different?
I always want to do anything that could help the community of this island, so … since this group came and giving us great ideas about managing the coral, so, I’m up for it.
Do you think that you’re closer with the elders and that the community has become stronger?
Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I really think so.
Is it easier for you to have that relationship with the elders now or is it still kind of hard to talk with them?
I think it’s kind of hard, but if we open up now then the next generation will see us, and I think they’ll do the same thing that we did, so that’s what I’m trying to do.