Read Part 1 before reading this. I am recounting this as a way of stress-debriefing myself. Though not affected by the storm, the aftermath was so grim I had to find ways to heave the weight off my chest.
The eve of the landfall (Nov 7)
My husband and I took turns monitoring the news over the TV. We hardly slept. I had this dream or was it groggy thought of me looking down from our 3rd-storey bedroom over the road below and seeing a river of raging waters which washed ashore countless people. I tossed and turned the whole night, worrying about church members who were in their frail houses, of wondering whether the hotel could stand up to the typhoon and of feeling sad for the many families who could not afford to take shelter in a hotel and whose only option is to cramp themselves in public evacuation centers.
Friday morning, when Yolanda made landfall (Nov 8)
We woke up groggily on Friday to stupefying video footages of Atom Araullo which was soon to go viral on Twitter worldwide. Yolanda made her first landfall on Samar at dawn and her second one in Tacloban by mid-morning. These two received the brunt of the typhoon’s fury. At the end of the day, the typhoon made 9 landfalls, never weakening a bit each time. But apart from Atom’s video which only showed the raging floodwaters, there were no videos yet on how the storm affected people.
By noon, we got out of the hotel in time for when the storm went northward, away from our city. We went home to a disheveled house. I did a lot of unpacking. Appliances had to be returned to their places and documents that I have placed in plastic boxes had to be returned.
Much of the news comes from Tacloban, a populous city. Multitudes of bodies were seen washed ashore. Debris was strewn on the streets in heaps. My five-year-old son, upon seeing aerial shots of less populated towns, asked me, “Mama, what are those sticks?” The toppled coconut trees did look like match sticks that have been scattered around.
Saturday (Nov 9)
It was only a day after the typhoon landfall that graphic videos and news came. It was just so unbelievable. It was my first time to hear of storm surges. That time, the death toll was just around 150. There were videos of the mountains of debris which rendered roads impassable, of houses all toppled over, of grand mansions unroofed—but still, there were no tales yet of the massive carnage.
I slept fitfully again, weighed down by what I have seen and heard. Wet, famished, thirsty and homeless, those people had to endure the indignity of not even being able to bury their dead. The never-to-die philosophical question of suffering disturbed my sleep.
Sunday (Nov 10)
The pastor-husband held a morning service of his sober reflections on the typhoon. We will never know the why behind it all. Only God knows. It may only be in heaven that we will find the answers to our troubled questions. He also told about not feeling any kind of self-righteous or condemning thoughts.
Those people are not being punished, in much the same way that we are not being rewarded by being spared from the storm. We are just as sinful as they are. He asked the fathers to come to the altar and offer heartfelt thanksgiving for sparing our city, saying we should thank God as much as we have asked for His protection.
Yet, most importantly, my husband dwelt most on the issue of eternity. Should a storm flush us to shore and into eternity, any time, we both know that we are going to heaven. Not because we are good– we are sinful just like anybody else– but because, one time in our lives, we repented of our sins and trusted Christ alone as our only Savior. Salvation is not through good works and religion but by repentance to God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. Call me nuts but that is the Biblical way of going to Heaven and it is the only way we could truly avert the foremost danger– that of going to eternal damnation.
After the service, though, I saw a rappler.com news which told of a death toll estimate of 10,000. The storm surges which caused 20-foot high waters to surge inland were what brought on massive, massive death.
My facebook feed began telling of social media status updates made by Yolanda survivors. They told of there being no police to keep watch over the city, of looting, of scouring for food beneath corpses, of catching rainfall to get water… endless stories that dampened my mood throughout the day.
Monday (Nov 11)
It was 3 days after the supertyphoon landfall. The news have become more and more revealing. When the news aired in the afternoon, I just could not finish. I felt dizzy. Those big, old men crying like babies just rent my heart. My vertigo recurred for awhile. News after news of the carnage weakened me.
A big “Why?” will always be looming in our heads. I do not want to rant about it all—the politics, the environmental degradation aspect, the lack of preparedness, poverty, morals, religion, apathy and all.
Let us just help. Click these links to know what you can do and where you can go.
Photo by EPA/Dennis Sabangan from rappler.com