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Typhoon Survival


Landing in Tacloban, I was not prepared for what I was seeing. Buildings that had been flattened and scattered, piles of rubble and mangled metal, vehicles upside down and piled on top of each other, and an airport that didn’t look much like an airport. One has to wonder how anyone ever survived.

The schools were built to withstand typhoons and tropical storms but no one ever imagined that they would be no match for Yolanda as she came roaring through. As we were passing out food at one of the schools, we were able to hear how people went to the school for safety during the storm.

All the buildings were destroyed except one.

Everyone drowned in the one surviving building, 44 in all, only because as the water was rising, they couldn’t get the doors open and the roof didn’t come off. People taking shelter in the other buildings were swept away with the building and survivors were found on a hill about 3 miles away.

It was devastating to hear the stories of tragedy, but the stories of survival were miraculous.

When the water started to rise, people climbed to the roofs of their homes, schools and other buildings and would hang on for dear life to anything they could find. The water level rose anywhere from 10 to 20 feet high. Imagine hanging onto the fender of a racecar during the Indy 500 and you might have an idea of how fast the wind was.

I met a woman that held onto the branches of a coconut tree until the water started to go down. Another woman held onto something that floated and was found in Mindanao, which is the southernmost island of the Philippines.

One day when I asked a woman how she survived, she told me everyone in her home survived by going to the roof and hanging onto wires that were attached to the roof. Seven people, including three kids under the age of six, were on the roof holding on for dear life. Then I asked if she had lost any family members and she responded by saying that everyone except one had drowned in her aunt’s home. The one survivor was a six-month-old baby boy that was floating until the neighbors grabbed him out of the water. I am going to call this baby Moses, as I believe that God has great plans for this little boy.

These are just a few of the crazy stories of survival. I hope one day to hear more.