When did you first hear about the typhoon, before it hit? Did you know that one was coming?
When the typhoon hit my place like … tonight, then I heard like yesterday. It’s like, Hey you know that tonight the typhoon’s going to hit your place? And I was like oh, okay. It’s like, I don’t really … I thought it’s not going to really strong or …
So you weren’t worried?
It’s like I’m not really worried that much.
You were in Palau?
Yeah, I’m in Palau.
When did you hear that it had actually …
The next day. Like … the night it hit my place, and the next day, and then it’s really calm, that’s what they say. So, I saw a lot of pictures on Facebook and … a lot of …
What was that like, seeing those pictures?
When I saw those pictures, it’s like … it’s not real. It’s like a dream, it’s like I saw something that’s not real. I saw the pictures and it’s really like … makes me … I tried not to cry but, there’s a feeling … I feel that, I wanna cry and then like … It’s good that I cry and then, it’s like I don’t feel like I want to eat. I just want to be in my room, I don’t want people to talk to me, ’cause I was in dorm. And then … I don’t know if I was going to think I can still feel that, I still can feel that feeling that happened to me or that I feel that time. It’s really weird, you know.
Were there other people from Ulithi with you?
Yeah. Me and my cousin, Viola, and the others. But we don’t really … like asking for the other islands, but our island, because this is our … Falalop is the one have the airport. So the plane came, and the pilot take pictures, and then came in the plane and take pictures … So when I took those pictures, really specific and it really … make us really feel bad.
How long was it until you could talk to your family?
I’ve been in Palau and I haven’t talked to my family until my dad came to main, to Yap main, and then he contact me on the phone in the office, so we talk and just, I just ask my dad, “So how’s my family? How’s the family? How’s mom? How’s my nephew? How’s the baby?” And a lot of … He say, “Don’t worry, they’re fine, you just try to finish your school and then you come.” I say, “Well you make sure I come, ’cause I can’t take this anymore. I can’t focus in school. It’s really bothering me,” so, he say, “Yeah I promise you will come.”
How many days was it after the typhoon before you talked to him?
Maybe … two weeks after.
I didn’t … I haven’t talk to my family or contact my family or see my family for, like … one week after the typhoon.
So you didn’t know if they were okay.
I didn’t know if they were okay or my mom died, or one of my family died … I don’t know. I just like asking those people, and like … “Have you know something about Falalop Ulithi?” and they say, “They say that they’re fine.” They don’t mention about my family. When I ask them, they say that “They’re fine” and this and this, and how’s your family? “They’re fine … ” so they don’t mention about my family. It really hurt and I don’t want to think about it, so I went and trying to sleep, and think about it, and crying, like those … so I keep on asking, look on the Facebook, went to Facebook and asked people if they’re okay. The saddest part, during the typhoon, all of my dad’s Aunty, like our grandma, passed away during the typhoon.
Louisa told us she was with her. I’m sorry.
That’s fine, it’s okay.
Did you see — when Amos flew over and took the pictures, could you see your house?
No. It’s like it’s really hard to see the spot of my house, only some houses, a lot of houses were … So I, I just asked my dad when we talked to each other, like talked to him, like I’m in Palau and he’s in Yap so we talked to each other and contact each other. He said, “We’re okay.” So just tell me where were you guys when the typhoon hit you guys. “We’re in the hospital.” Within the hospital, the winds and the water, the winds really hit the windows and break all the woods and break the doors. They don’t have to lay, because there’s no space, they don’t sit down. They just stand. They didn’t … do something to relax their legs, they just stand and hold the babies and holding the older.
Your grandmother, she didn’t die from the typhoon. She was already sick?
Yeah, I think because of … sick, and panic, and the people really heard the … a lot of things. Loud, the winds comes up, breaks all the doors and the windows, so it’s kind of … weird, so …
So you talked to your dad two weeks after the typhoon. How long before you were able to come?
Um … if we’re going to talk, like in May … and then … I forgot the typhoon, but I talked to him about May something, and then June 1st, I was in Yap.
I think it was March 31.
Oh my goodness. That thing was in March?
What did you do when you saw them?
When I just came to Yap, like on June 1, and then June 2, and then I flew from Yap to here. When I just, on the plane and I looked down, it’s really like something really moving me. It’s like, really moving me. And then, that really … makes me sad, but when I see Falalop, this island, and … the other people, because only me from Falalop on the plane, and I was really crying ’cause I’m the only one from there on the plane, and I was really crying and holding my mouth and covering my face and trying not to, I don’t want the sound to come out, so I just hold my breath and cry when I … and I don’t want people to see me crying, so I just cover my mouth and then … trying to make no sound. When they looked back and then I was pretending I’m okay, but I was really hiding my face that time and … and then, when we land, then really, it was crazy, look here, “What? What? What?” That’s what I’m saying. “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” The others, they’re not really like that, they’re just like, “Oh yeah!” and just laughing. Like they’re really kind of … they’re okay, because of my island and they haven’t seen their island. I was like “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh” I had not really like this. And then I tried to like, I wiped the tears and I made my face really calm as I could. So when I got out from the plane and I heard people clapping and like, “Oh Skyleen,” I was really smiling, but inside me, there’s a feeling that really … and then, when I just saw my dad and then I went to my dad and then I hugged him, and it’s like I’m laughing because I don’t want to cry. Only us and then I’m going to cry, so I’m just laughing and I don’t want people … It’s like, I want to cry but I don’t want people to like laugh at me, or something like that. So I just hold my crying like that, and then when I saw my mom came with a lei to welcome me, and then I went to my mom and I hold her. Then I was like, laughing and … and then they just like, “I will come back. We miss you.” I just went last year, and then I just came June 2nd.
And you’ve been here since?
Yeah, I’ve been here, like when I graduate from high school, I just graduate and then I left, and then … I went, and then I come, but it’s okay.
Do you think you’ll go back to school? For how long?
I want to stay for a while, but my mom and my dad, they want me to go to finish my education and come back, so they told me that, “Don’t worry. We’ll be fine. You just go. We’re just concerned about your future and your brothers and your sisters, because only you is in school now.” Because my older sister and older brother and youngest brother and the youngest sister, they’re like … my older sister and brother, they don’t have, they just go to, they drop out and they don’t want to go and … it’s like that. They fail or something like that, so my older brother, the one him and then me, he’s still in high school, it’s like remain, remain, remain. Keep on firing from the high school. But only me, he’s kind of older but I just came and then … I don’t really drink and chew and I don’t do drugs, so that’s why I feel it’s really that I go to school.
I can’t wait to finish my education ’cause I want to support my family. My mom and my dad are kind of old, and then … I still have a sister that’s in elementary now, and I have a nephew. A lot of kids. I can’t wait to finish my school so I can support them.
During the typhoon I can … after the typhoon, it’s like I feel something weird inside me. It’s like make me … I don’t know. It’s like it’s a dream, it’s not true. It’s really … I don’t know. When I just look around, it’s like it’s not Falalop. The way I left and come back again, it’s not even same. I really want to work hard to move around, like working in a community but cannot ’cause, there’s no shadow that you can rest, and it’s really hot. You can see people now. Their skin is really dark, it’s burned from the sun. If you want to walk over somewhere and if you’re tired, there’s no shadow if you want to rest. It’s really hot. People are sick and heal again and get sick, but they keep on trying to heal the community, the island from them, it’s …
Is there enough food for everyone?
There’s food because of some people, like outsiders, they sending like … they give their support, like bring rice and FEMA. That’s it. The FEMA that … that came now, it’s kind of enough but not really. I don’t know, maybe tomorrow on and then people will be okay for the FEMA.
What do you think about the impact of the typhoon on the reef?
On the what?
On the reef?
Um … I don’t know, ’cause they say that there was work on the, you know, we stop fishing, I don’t know, ’cause they told people not to fish here. Nowadays, I don’t really eat fish. I don’t know why. And I believe that my brothers, they really good in fishing, and I don’t know why we hardly eat fish, unlike before. I think there’s a … ’cause we, we also want our reef to be good, so we also need to protect our reef by not catching a lot of fish.
Do you like doing the science?
Yeah. I really want to protect the reef, as I know the reef can protect the land. I like it. It’s fun going in the ocean and the water. Like looking around, it’s really fun and beautiful.