We have been spared any serious damage yet again in Cebu City in the short span of a month since the massive Bohol earthquake… We are extremely fortunate, but wait nervously for more news about folks from Tacloban, Ormoc, Bantayan, Bogo, Malapascua, Iloilo, Aklan, Boracay and Coron who were in the direct path of the eye of Typhoon Yolanda, or “Haiyan” to all those outside the Philippines. I was in Cebu until late yesterday, and took a scheduled flight out hours before the airport was closed and it seemed fairly certain that the city would NOT be in the direct path of the storm. Today was a tense one, much more so for all of our managers and crew and family members in Cebu that waited for the forceful winds and rain to hit mid-morning to just after lunch time. At say roughly 90-100 kilometers from the eye of the storm, the city seems to have really been spared the worst, but I imagine that Northern Cebu will have sustained tremendous damage and hope the loss of life is as minimal as possible.
At our head office or commissary, which sits on top of a hill and is prone to being whipped by winds from three sides, we prepared yesterday by cutting down several large tree branches, questionable trees, and very old coconuts that neighbors thought might come crashing down on their homes. We figuratively “battened down the hatches”… But despite the last minute pruning, several huge branches, tree trunks and other debris came crashing down and all about. But again, almost too good to be true, whole tree trunks that could easily have fallen on parked vehicles, or come through our roof right onto my office desk, chose to fall in the least damaging position or manner possible. We have lost some really large and old trees, and I only console myself that we try hard to plant 100-300 trees every year, so whatever comes down has many younger cousins growing larger every day.
All staff seem to have weathered the storm and our branches have only very minor damage. We had intentionally reduced our stocks of pigs, and as of last night, some 20+ pigs were in our pens, and I am sure they were frightened silly throughout the day. Again, massive branches and trees that could have crashed through their housing chose to fall just off to the sides as well. There is an eery calm this evening, I hear, and lights are still out in parts of Cebu City, but there is also a quiet sigh of relief that it wasn’t worse… but that is absolutely undermined by the likely news of catastrophic damage elsewhere in the archipelago as communications come back on-line and we see the damage by daylight tomorrow. For what was billed as the strongest storm in recorded history (with wind speeds exceeding what was previously thought possible), at least it passed over a path with fewer millions of people than say if it hit Metro Manila or Central Luzon.
If you are reading this post from parts of Luzon largely unaffected by the storm, or from abroad, please do what you can to help people in the affected areas. I was recently told that for Bohol, post-earthquake, the one thing folks needed were iron nails. Yes, nails. They were able to salvage GI sheets from their roofs, they have managed to cobble together lumber or coco lumber, but they need nails to rebuild their homes. For Yolanda, I suspect more substantial building materials will be required, along with food aid for the many weeks ahead. I am not the most religious of people, but tonight, several prayers go out to those most affected by the storm that has ravaged the Visayas region today.
I have written about felled trees before, here. Our outdoor terrace will be closed to private dinners for a few weeks to rehabilitate the gardens and clean up debris. The mini-eyeball participants were the last to use the terrace before this storm. :(
Beautiful but strangely eerie top photo sent to me by email. From Flickr images, by “Eumesat”
All fallen tree photos in this post by JD.
P.S. Kudos to Jessica Soho and the GMA News Team. We have been surfing the television channels all day for more news, for dispatches from hard hit areas, updates, etc. and for most of the day it was repetitive, same-old stuff until we switched onto “State of the Nation” this evening and correspondents from the hardest hit areas sent reports in, all near generators, and managing to send vivid video and more comprehensive coverage of damage in their ages. I consider this a huge coup for JS and her team given the tough conditions in the areas concerned. Special mention to Atom Araullo of ABS-CBN for his early video from Tacloban that made it out before communication lines and electricity went out.