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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

By breakfast, the rains were continuous and Mercy, one of the local teachers, came to say they wanted to send the children home from school, as some had arrived in wet clothes. Information from staff in Manila reported that storm signal number 3 was now raised. At this point, communications ended. We were prepared to open the school where there was water and sanitation and to cook together in the outside kitchen by Adagi Balay.

Winds began to gust from the north by 9:00 am, and the dorm kids were sent to study in the dining room of Adagi Balay. Soon, trees were cracking and though some branches came off, none hit the house. People from the village were gathering in the livelihood building because it was a cement structure. But because there were few rooms there and access to the kitchen was difficult, we decided to move people to the school.

By 10:30 am, the winds grew very strong, over 100kph.

The winds began to subside, and more people gathered in the livelihood building from the north and western parts of the village. Some houses already lost their roofs. Fallen trees hit some houses, including those of the local teachers’ and Datu’s tulugan, but there was minimal damage and no casualties. Behind the school library, a fruit tree fell, but the damage was minimal and the school building was still easily accessible from the front.

Power lines came down in a few places, although power was already cut off from the local service provider. Rather than cook in the dirty kitchen, we moved the cooking inside, as the trees around the house were breaking up. More trees fell near other houses in the community, and I was unable to reach people as winds were rising again and roofs flapping. The returning winds started this time from the south, and I realised we were in the eye of the typhoon, and it was coming back to hit us again.

We tried to move more people to the school from the livelihood building; a few more arrived. The path to the livelihood building was difficult however, as a tree fell on the power lines and the bamboo cracked all over the path. There were no leaks in the dorm, but the children there were frightened.

The wind finally died down by noon, and everyone was out assessing damage. Many lost their bamboo roofs, and whatever they did not bag, was wet. Most did not eat until past 1:00 pm; rice was continuously cooked and handed out, although a few cooked their own food and brought it to the school. By early afternoon, people felt safer, and although they were tired, they were easier of heart. Later, it became clear that many were not going home and 21 families set up in the school for the night.

On the way to the hydropower house, some logs were washed down the side stream coming from the road and the water was very red. Power from the micro hydro system was down, but once the grill was cleared of leaves and the tank washed out, the generator started without trouble, restoring power to the school and the dorm, where families from the village were staying.

That evening, people gathered at the school and enjoyed being together, despite the circumstances. We cooked rice for about 70 that evening, but it did not seem to be enough. We also had a mass in the school; people sang and were generally at ease for the night, as the situation was no longer threatening.