It was that very day when I had really believed that I would die. Dying due to drowning. I never wanted to die that way, fortunately for me, I have survived. Please read my story of survival.
Winds were starting to knock on our doors. I have just shut the windows while my brother has just turned off the computer and was ready to sleep. A strong wind caused our door to bang loudly as I ran to beg my brother not to sleep. He said I am just over reacting and that I should get a shut eye too. Well, I did not.
The winds were gone and back again. There was no rain, just winds, I did not do anything. I went outside and checked on the streets, they were empty but leaves were falling from my neighbor’s mahogany tree. I went inside, played a little, listened to the radio, watched a little from the TV.
Daddy and Mama was awake already. Mama was talking about my sister and I’s post graduate studies and how she wanted us to finish school and be successful. (My sister has just woke up.) Just a short talk with my parents when I saw a corrugated galvanized iron fly across the street. I said to myself that the storm is starting.
There was still internet connection and electricity. According to the news, Haiyan had landed already at 4:40am. I was unsure about it.
Our garage which is stocked with old corrugated galvanized iron is almost empty. The wind is gushing and the garages is full of leaves. Our dog is fearing for his life. My brother went to get him because he might get his by the plywood. Everything was flying. The rain was so strong. Then we saw water dripping from the ceiling. I immediately ran for our TV since it might get wet. (Thank goodness for adrenaline rush, with my fragile body. I was able to carry a LED TV without anyone’s help.) Haiyan was lifting the roof!
My brother was saving my law books, my sister was saving her medical books while crying because of the expensiveness of the materials. Mama and daddy were placing important documents in their built in cabinets. The men who came to our house to seek shelter were helping my brother lift some things to a higher place.
Haiyan was starting to howl!
Haiyan was howling! So loud our ears popped. It was as if you were on a plane and at a very high altitude. I was deaf for a moment. I was crying. The howling was painful. I could not bear it. It only went on for hours. I was praying. Mama could not believe what was happening. We were hiding in my parents’ comfort room while my brother together with the other men sought shelter in the other cr. It was awful.
Water level started rising. My parent’s bed started floating. We opted to go out of the cr because we might get stuck there and we might die. Daddy said, “the 30 years we have worked for so hard, gone in hours.” I cried hard. Everything was gone. The dining table was brought inside the room, placed on my parents’ bed.
While staying on the table, I saw my niece being carried by a neighbor, he gave the baby to me. My cousin (the baby’s dad) was out saving their family. I carried the child in my arms. She was cold. I was hugging her. I could not produce heat because I was also soaked in the rain. Next thing I knew, I was exhaling towards her back. She felt warm and I felt tired, but I could not stop. I did not want a child to die in my arms. Barely two years old, I was crying and begging her not look for her Papa. My mom found dry towels from a plastic cabinet, and took the child’s clothes. She felt safe but when she saw my mom disappear, she was yelling “Mommy, mommy!”. Mom just stared at my niece and told her that “adi gad la hi mommy, naninipig la didi ha balay kay gin babaha na kita.” (mommy is just here, clearing things because we are already flooded.) She calmed down. My dear Tracey calmed down.
The water was above our hips already, and mom said we had to seek higher grounds be safe but dad would not leave our home. He said that he’d watch over it. I was crying. My cousin came to get his daughter because he had already secured his family in a house near ours, he said he’d be back for us and he did came back.
Mom, my sister, my brother, they were all evacuated. But dad would not budge. I knew and understood very well his attachment to the house. It was the place where his dreams came true, the very place where he established the business, the very place where he saw all his endless efforts everyday. He would not leave. MY cousin was persistent but dad could not be persisted, I just said “sige, kun di ka ma-evacuate, hala, di gihap ako maiwas dinhi. Ngadi nala kita hasta hit at kalunod.” (Okay,if you do not wish to evacuate, I wont leave also. Let us stay here until we drown.) With that, Daddy left the house. We left the house. Roofless, no ceiling, flooded, broken and smelly.
The water outside was higher, it reached my chest. I had no slippers and there I slipped, tasted the salty water. There I knew that the water flooding us was not from the creek but from the sea. Storm surge, I remembered from the news. I crossed the street and onto the house where we sought shelter.
From the second floor, I saw our family owned flats, ripped of the roofs and ceilings. I saw my parents’ efforts thrown away by Haiyan. And I cannot do anything about it. The people who rented the flats secured themselves from the typhoon. They helped one another. They were also visited by my cousin but the refused to go out since they were covered by the cement ceiling of the first floor.
I checked on everyone in the family. The only one missing was my younger brother. He forced himself to go to work. (He works for a BPO company. His time of work was around 9pm -7am.) I was thinking about him. I was wondering if his workplace was safe. We were waiting for him to come home.
Hours passed and it was late in the afternoon, no more Haiyan. There were only trashes left. Amidst the many people passing by walking like an exodus to another part of Leyte, we saw my brother. With a stressed out face and tired limbs, he was walking towards our home. Our destroyed home.
We were complete (nuclear and extended family), but my heart was yearning for someone.