Typhoon Milenyo (Xangsane): Field Report

7:17 am PHT

As luck would have it, we were one of the last few areas in our village to get back electricity. (Thank you, Meralco; I know it’s hard being overworked to bring back electricity.) I think the power came back at around 3 to 4 a.m. this morning. And the first thing I did? Open the computer and type this entry.  :p

Oh well, this entry is too late to appear in this article but I definitely have a lot more interesting mix of photos than those early-birds.  =D

Thursday morning, I was already prepared to go to work when I received a text message from the company call tree informing us that we don’t have work. So, I was able to surf and monitor news about the typhoon for a while until the power went out at around 9 a.m.

It was probably a good thing I was at home because we needed all the hands we can get. All of the bedrooms in the second floor at our home have provisions for air conditioning units but only one room has a unit installed. The rest only had flimsy plastic covering which were no match for the 70-knot winds of the typhoon. Water entered some of the bedrooms and so we hastily worked to repair and fix the openings during the height of the typhoon using extra tarpaulin sheets lying around.

Since the center of the storm passed through southern Laguna and northern Cavite, we were in the path of the eye of the storm. The winds died down from around 11:30 until 1 in the afternoon. During the lull, I took some pictures of the storm clouds and the initial destruction (see below). It was an awesome (as in awe-inspiring) experience to watch the power of Mother Nature and observe the clouds roll up above during the quiet. I can’t remember the last time the eye of a typhoon passed but it’s definitely a mildly interesting thing to see. Central and northern Metro Manila didn’t get to see the eye and instead were subjected to hours-long torrential winds and rain.

After the eye had passed, strong winds and rain again battered our area, this time in the opposite direction. Fortunately, our repairs held up against the fury of the wind. I was able to go online for a bit to monitor some news using the remaining battery life of my laptop. For the rest of the time, I relied on the WAP-over-GPRS feature of my cellphone during the few times I had a signal.

We had work the next day and I regretted not bringing the camera to picture the aftermath of the typhoon. They say that at least 30 billboards collapsed in Metro Manila and on the way to my work in Quezon City, I counted around 8 of them. The triangular billboard at Roxas Blvd. corner MIA Road collapsed, crushing a CRV and rendering part of the MMDA overpass impassable. I’m not sure if the passengers of the CRV survived.

Traffic was bad along EDSA northbound due to the spectacular collapse of a billboard structure onto the Magallanes interchange. A passenger bus was caught in the steel carcass. Along McKinley Ave, there were tens of uprooted acacia trees. The humongous billboard structure at Ortigas Ave. corner C-5 was another casualty, but fortunately it collapsed into the empty lot beside it. I was suprised that the roofs at Tiendesitas remained intact.

Since we had no running water at home, I managed to take a bath at Gold’s Gym in Galleria after work. Traffic was bad along EDSA-Pasay going back home because Meralco was busy repairing a fallen post beside the Tramo flvover.

Saturday, I had to bring my younger sister to UP Diliman because she had a scheduled exam, and she wasn’t sure if it would push through or not. This time I brought my camera and we pictured the destruction along the way. I know the typhoon isn’t really a funny thing, but I can’t help but laugh at the sight of a car accident warning (the one where you have the remains of a car put up on a pedestal) on Commonwealth Ave. with a fallen tree on top of it. The pedestal admonishes: “Don’t let this happen to you!” Yes, I’ll try not to let a tree fall on top of me.  =D (See the picture below.)

My sister’s exam was cancelled and I spent the morning at Gold’s Gym in Glorietta. The third floor had no electricity (the mall probably turned off the circuit at the top floor) and I had to take a bath in total darkness. (You gotta take advantage of running water!) In the mall, people lined up at the ATM machines, probably because credit cards were unusable the past few days.

News reports say that Milenyo was the strongest storm to directly hit Metro Manila in the last 11 years; in 1995 Super Typhoon Rosing battered the Metro. I can’t really remember that storm, but I was told that there was no electricity for one week back then. Milenyo was a relatively mild typhoon in comparison (the equivalent of a Category-1 hurricane), but due to the extensive development in the country since then, the damage appears larger.

They say that EDSA is the Battle of the Billboards. Well, apparently, Milenyo won that battle and we will definitely see a backlash against the thousands of billboards that have sprouted along the metropolis’ thoroughfares. Well, despite the precautions of rolling up the tarpaulin ads, many billboards structures have collapsed, making them the #1 hazard during the onslaught of typhoon Milenyo.

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