My name is Noah and my father, Troy, stepmother, and four little siblings all live in Tacloban City, Philippines, the hardest hit city by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. This is my story of what happened over the course of one week as I waited to hear word from my entire family during the strongest recorded storm in human history.
As I was heading to class on a Thursday two weeks ago, I checked my email on my phone as I had been doing all day because I knew that some storm might be heading to where my family was living. I saw two emails from my dad, one titled “Here We Go” and another “The Eye of the Storm”. Both emails contained videos of a part of the roof getting torn off and a part of a patio being swept into the wind. In my head I thought, “Well at least they’re safe, and that he has a signal, and that in typical Troy fashion he went outside during the eye of the strongest storm in a century.”
The next morning as I got up I was greeted by texts from friends and family asking if I had heard from my dad and if they were okay. Throughout that whole day I gave the same response: “I haven’t heard anything definitive from them, but I KNOW they’re okay. We just have to wait to hear from them.” Every time I checked the news, all I saw was that all communication had been cut off from Tacloban, and in my head I thought they’re fine. They’re fine, they’re fine, they’re just recovering and can’t get any signal.
Then, on Saturday morning, the first headline I saw was “10,000 dead in Tacloban.” At that point I still knew my family was ok, but I was starting to get a little worried. I stopped responding and left group messages with updates, because all I cared about in the universe was just hearing from my dad.
My mind then evolved into a vicious circle of thoughts over and over again that sometimes made its way into a response to a text or message from friends/family: “I haven’t heard from them, but I know they’re ok, I can’t tell you how I know, I just know. It’s just a matter of waiting to hear from them. Please be patient. No I haven’t heard from them. I’m sorry, I’m just waiting to hear from my dad.”
I started receiving messages from people that were very insensitive such as, “I heard it’s flooding multiple levels...Bodies floating.” What was I supposed to do with that? No I hadn’t heard from anyone by then, but I knew they were going to be okay, because if I thought anything else I was going to go insane.
By Sunday, as I read more news about bodies in the streets and looters and the entire city being destroyed, it reached a breaking point in my head. I started thinking about what I would do if… I can’t even write it, even now.
Anyway, I went on with my day as normally as I could, still holding onto that thought/feeling knowing that my dad, step-mom, Diego, Mariano, Maria, and Julia were safe. Every once in a while, my will power would slip and I’d start to think about what I would do. Disappear? Go to my god-fathers house? Carry on with life normally?
Finally, I went over to a close friend’s house to watch a movie to relax and be with people. Outwardly, I acted like I was fine, because I knew that was what my dad would’ve wanted me to do: be the silent warrior and re-assure people that they would be fine. About an hour into the movie, my phone rang with a strange number showing up. I picked it up with anticipation but not trying to get my hopes too high.
“Noah. It’s Dad, everyone is okay.”
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