Saturday, October 6, 2007

Typhooning with Krosa

Advice for the week: don't bother using an umbrella in a typhoon.

Yep, it's stormy and windy in Taichung right now. We're in the middle of a typhoon here! This is our third typhoon since we arrived in Taiwan, but the first two both veered off to the north as they approached, so we didn't get the full force of the storms. Actually, the satellite maps online show that this one is veering north too; technically its eye is a little off the northern tip of the island, though much of the storm itself is directly overhead.

For those who don't know, a typhoon is basically the same as a hurricane, just with a different name in a different part of the world. It's categorized the same way, levels 1-5, with 5 being the worst (this one apparently is a level 4). They name them alphabetically each year, too, just like hurricanes (this one has been named Typhoon Krosa).

All last night we kept hearing the wind. It's often windy here, but typhoon wind is like no other kind. Floyd and I have nicknamed it "the Banshee" because of the wailing, shrieking, howling, whistling noises it makes as it tries its best to get into our apartment. We didn't get much sleep last night with the Banshee roaring around us, and today it's even louder.

This morning (Saturday) we had to go to school for a professional development event (which ended several hours early because of the typhoon). Just walking to school was quite an experience. The ground was covered with leaves and sticks and in some places even entire branches that had blown off trees. It wasn't raining much at the time - kind of a heavy drizzle - but the gusts of wind were so strong that we had to literally lean into them to even walk, and once or twice I was physically unable to take a step forward until the gust died down.

The scariest thing I saw on the way was somebody's metal roll-up garage door that had come partially detached and was hanging onto its framework only at the top two corners.  It was flapping like a banner, threatening to go sailing loose at any second.  I hope it never did.  It would have been a flying guillotine.

I discovered that it's no use trying to use an umbrella in a typhoon. First of all, the rain doesn't come straight down; the wind whips it all over so that it can come at you from any given direction at any moment, including horizontally or even straight up. And apart from my umbrella being next to useless anyway, the wind immediately whooshed it inside-out, snapped off a couple of the ribs, and flung them away. I had to point the poor crippled umbrella in the other direction so the wind would blow it right-side-in again, and then quickly furl it up to avoid further damage.

 At school there were branches all over the walkways and driveways, and even two or three entire trees that had blown over! It was the first time I had seen anything like that. 

Fortunately there was no damage to any of the buildings (nor had I seen any in the neighborhood on my way there, apart from the garage door). I did see a trash can, though, overflowing with the mangled remains of shredded umbrellas.  And the playground was a mess of downed branches.

 Well, we rushed through our meetings so people could get home sooner. There were teachers there from all of Morrison's three campuses plus the satellite school, which are all in different cities, and the others all had several hours' drive to get home (they had spent Friday night here in Taichung). We were concerned about those from Bethany campus, in Taipei, since that's very close to the eye of the storm. People kept saying it's not good weather for a big bus to be out on the highways, and not a good direction for said bus to be heading. There was some talk about sending them by train instead, but the high speed rail isn't running, and I don't know if the regular train runs during typhoons either. Hopefully they've made it back okay by now.

Later I found out that the wind broke a window in the door of one of the elementary classrooms.  It wasn't that a stray branch smashed into the glass or anything.  The force of the wind itself just shattered the glass!  Although a teacher was in there at the time, fortunately she was at the other end of the room and no one was hurt.    

Floyd and I were able to catch a ride home afterwards with someone else who lives in our apartment building. We were especially thankful since the rain was pouring down heavily by then, and had been for several hours. When we got home, we were surprised to see that Krosa had invaded our apartment! The living room floor was wet where water had come through the sliding glass door that leads to the covered balcony, but that wasn't the worst of it. The bedroom had a lot of leakage, both from the window and the air conditioning unit. My dresser and everything on it, two rugs, and a large section of floor were totally soaked. Not only that, but the water was dripping down from the window area inside the concrete wall to the floor. Or to be more specific, I should say it was seeping down UNDERNEATH the paint. So in several places the paint was bulging with rivulets of water underneath, pooling on the floor when it got to the bottom. That was weird!

Anyway, we moved the furniture out of the way and got rid of the dripping rug, and used almost every towel we have in the house, plus a bunch of rags, to soak up the water. But of course it keeps coming in, so we have a load of towels in the washing machine right now, hoping they'll dry before the ones currently on the floor get totally saturated. The air conditioning unit is letting water in all around it, and there isn't much we can do about that except stuff paper towels in the cracks and change them every few minutes, and keep towels on the floor under it as well.

And of course this whole time the wind is howling and raging and trying to join the rain inside our apartment. Can you hear it? It's really something! We might have to run to the 7-Eleven on the corner and see if they have earplugs, if we want to get any sleep tonight. At least we don't have to worry about the roof leaking, though. That's one advantage of living on the seventh of twelve stories!

The wind is screaming in through the air conditioning units, and we keep having to go wring out our towels. It's ridiculous! The rain is coming in so hard it's spurting up like little fountains under the windows. We can't keep up with it, and we're out of dry towels. Building a dike around parts of our floor would help us more than trying to sop up the water. I don't know how we're going to sleep tonight, because if we aren't there to keep wringing out the towels, the water will spread out all over the floor and get all over the apartment. Yikes!

Well, I'd better close so I can go help Floyd deal with Krosa's mess.  Wish us luck!

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