December 24, 2013

Beyond the Flash Flood and the Storm

November 8, 2013, just 3 days after the 22nd Anniversary of the Ormoc City Flash flood on November 5, 1991, Ormoc and the islands in Central Philippines were devastated by the super typhoon named Haiyan (Yolanda).

22 years ago.

I was 4 years old then when the flash flood brought about by Tropical Storm Uring ravaged Ormoc City with almost 5,000 recorded deaths, 3,000 missing persons, and 14,000 destroyed houses. Our small nipa house was among them. In fact, my father and older brother, while saving some things in our house, were swept away by the flood. My mother, older sisters, and me were safe in our neighbor's house and we were fervently praying for the safety of my father and brother.

Miraculously, God saved them by providing trees and flagpoles for them to hold on to and He gave them strength to swim through the flood.

November 8, 2013.

We have seen in the news that the coming storm will be the strongest to make landfall this year and my family prepared for it. Yet, little did we know that the destruction of the storm were so huge that it prompted help from the international communities.

In Ormoc, the wind started to blow at around 5am. By the time our family finished our morning worship at around 6am, the wind (which I named the first wave) became increasingly forceful and fierce. It was the start of the storm.

At around 8:30am, the eye of the storm passed by and there was stillness all around. We went out of our house and we immediately saw the damage around us. But the stillness was short-lived.

After five to ten minutes, the wind (the second wave) started to blow again on the opposite side. We took refuge in our house and we offered a prayer for our safety and the people affected by the storm. Yes, the wind was so strong, wild, and fierce! When I looked outside our window, I saw how the roofing materials were crumpled and blown by the wind. The debris of most houses and the branches of the trees were also flying in the air. Because of the powerful wind and the accompanying rain, it was white all around.

The storm slowly abated at around 2pm and in my calculation, the storm devastated Ormoc for six to eight hours. We had the chance to survey our surroundings at around 3pm.

All around us was destruction! It was unimaginable!

I saw the devastation in its full scale when we surveyed the city one day after the storm.

I then created a status update that was posted on my Facebook wall on November 14, 2013.

"A Call for Help

Ormoc City is severely damaged due to the super typhoon. Houses collapsed, schools and government buildings were damaged, roofs, trees, and vegetations were ripped. To us, locals, it is a heart-wrenching scenario. As of today, people are trying to move on, slowly. It will take months to recover, to have electricity and water in place. If you want to help the people here, the immediate needs are food, water, building/house materials like plywood, lumber, roof, "trapal"/tents and others.

Thank you."

To all my family, relatives, and friends who helped us (my family, community, brethren) through the storm, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I will be creating a special blog post for all of you because you deserve our thanks and admiration!

We could not have survived these two great calamities without the protecting hand of God. I believe that God is still in control and He leads our way every day. Amidst the storms of life, I always find strength and inspiration from this song,

Till the Storm Passes By
Words and Music by Mosie Lister

In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face,
While the storm howls above me, and there's no hiding place.
'Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.

Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more,
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky;
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.

Many times Satan whispered, "There is no need to try,
For there's no end of sorrow, there's no hope by and by"
But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I'll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies.

When the long night has ended and the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence on the bright peaceful shore;
In that land where the tempest, never comes, Lord, may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.


  1. "it was white all around." --> Scary image.

    I am happy you got through the storm - and even helping others! God bless and merry Christmas! :)

    1. Yeah, it was the strongest typhoon that we have experienced in our entire lives. Thanks and happy holidays to you and your family too!

  2. Heartbreaking. Reading about it and watching news related to Typhoon Yolanda is already unbearable, much more for you who saw the wrath a day after the storm.

    May God continuously shower us with His mercy and may the survivors and all of us keep our faith to Him.

    1. You are right, Doc Gelo! The effects of the typhoon was so disheartening! Thank you so much for your prayers!

  3. This is so heartbreaking. Ormoc City is my favorite city in the Philippines. It is where my father and mother met and its also the place where I usually spend my summers. My cousin sent me a photo of our place and it was totally wrecked. We had to repair the roofs and made sure everything is doable before they left. Ormoc and the other places affected by yolanda will surely rise slowly.

    1. Shugah, wow! Ormoc is your favorite city in the Philippines ha! So glad to know it. I'm happy to know that your relatives there are now rebuilding their homes. Yes, we will rise and move on!

  4. I can imagine six to eight hours which seem like forever :( very devastating catastrophe. I am glad to see and feel you all rising and moving - you'll be stronger and better soon.

    1. Christeen, yeah, it was like forever. It was like our world stood still. But God is still faithful to us by saving us from the storm. Thank you for the support and care you've expressed! :)