By Rolynda Jonathan
Palau — On the afternoon of December 1, cheapest 2012, visit this site I sought shelter with dozens of families, on the eastern coast of Palau, at Airai Elementary School. The government advised that we move into shelters the day before the typhoon’s arrival. Children, mothers and fathers brought whatever essential items they had to the various classrooms where they eagerly awaited for Typhoon Bopha, mostly so they could simply return back to the comfort of their own homes.
The hours leading up to the projected time of Bopha’s arrival was grueling. People kept opening doors, looking at the sky to see what signs they could read from its approach. We all silently prayed that Bopha wouldn’t be as destructive as we imagined. The radio was turned up high, although radio reception was already beginning to go in and out. Ironically, computers and laptops at the principal’s office were still, at this point, able to provide us updates of Bopha’s path.
By late evening on Sunday December 2nd, the winds started to pick up. As it got stronger, more people became terrified of what was going on outside. We could hear debris being shuttled across the roof unsure of the nature of Bopha’s havoc.
While the kids were playing and getting to know one another, parents were engaged in discussions about the unforeseen future. Most weren’t sure whether they would have a home or whether it would be swallowed up by the terrifying storm.
When people stepped outside on Monday morning they were shocked to find Palau was still Palau. We really expected Armageddon. While most of the trees around the school’s baseball field had fallen, the school sustained no damage aside from the tennis court’s fence.
Although Airai Elementary School was left standing, Ngaaraard Elementary school was completely destroyed by Typhoon Bopha, as was Bethania High School. Other schools also sustained major damage. A nation-wide assessment effort is ongoing to determine the extent of the damage caused by Typhoon Bopha.
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