On the other side of Typhoon Haiyan
A typhoon comes up almost as if by surprise. As if no one is expecting anything. All is complete calm before. The distant beep of a horn and grind of a truck is all that can be heard. Then the lightest gust starts to shake drying laundry. You think nothing of it. A simple breeze. Welcome cool air in the tropics is all it seems. The motorbike horns continue their beep and a dog barks at the moon.
Then it comes. The first whoosh and spit of rain. It never rains right away. Teasing for a time. Letting you continue your business for a little while longer. Your senses slowly become more aware that the gusts are becoming more frequent, stronger. Pulling in items from outside you wonder at the coming hours. It always comes at the most inopportune times. In the night it may arrive in full force. Sending you to a hazy moment of awareness. With the wind and rain pelting you to semi-consciousness you think quietly…it’s here and there is nothing I can do now.
Eventually you go and have a look. The power has been cut and you are left at the mercy of nature. Trapped wherever you are. As you pull back the curtain you see the trees below crack their backs sideways and plastic bags float up into space. Metal roofs are blown off like styrofoam. The wind whips in phases. Coming harder, harder and harder, then easing off for a few seconds as it picks up momentum once again. Items of mystery float and zag weightlessly. Windows shutter as if they are about to shatter. The whole world seems to sway in it’s wake.
And the rain. It hits as hard as hail. You can see the rain actually being blown away by the wind. Only a minor inconvenience at first in comparison to the bellowing winds. Later becoming flooding traps. Time stands still in it’s fury. All you can do is watch. If you pretend it is not there for a moment it reminds you with a furious gust and the sound of breaking glass. You are not in control, but simply a piece of the puzzle.
Last Sunday I witnessed Typhoon Haiyan from the Island of Hainan, China. After hitting the Philippines the typhoon continued onwards, directly hitting the tropical beaches of Sanya, bringing with it half of the power it unleashed upon the Philippines. Trees uprooted, buildings destroyed, roads flooded, fishermen missing and relentless damage. Though measuring only half of the intensity of Haiyan’s first landing on shore, it’s presence was felt with full force. Doors ripped off their hinges, flying metal and trees acting like toothpicks. As Southern Hainan cleans up the broken pieces of this weeks typhoon, my thoughts are with those in Philippines who felt the full fury of the storm. A beautiful place, with some of the kindest people and biggest hearts. How frightening it must have been. So as you complain about getting a double sugar in your coffee, realize that things are not so bad. Our time of need all comes some day. Mother Nature works in mysterious ways. Be careful not to cry wolf or your storm may come.