Odette: My experience of a Category 5 super typhoon

Typhoon Odette was not the first time Philippines experienced a super typhoon, recent one prior to Odette was Yolanda (Haiyan) which wreck havoc also the Visayas but in the northern part. Odette’s path was the southern Visayas which the metro Cebu was badly hit too. I thought this typhoon was just the typical typhoon that the country usually expects. Warning alerts were very usual and did not provide much details of how intense it was.

Lapu-Lapu or Mactan Island badly hit as seen from the Macapagal Bridge

Hours before it hit metro and southern Cebu the super typhoon hit first the North-East of Mindanao where Siargao is located and was badly hit too. However, because no news that reached us about it unlike those times where regional TV network reported to their mother network in NCR, we were blind.

Electical posts and wires were down as well as trees making passage difficult

It was Thursday, a working week and because I work at night I usually sleeps during day and my sleep schedule is every afternoon. After lunch I already slept and the next thing I know was I woke up because my AC was not working anymore due to power outage and Facebook messenger and texts singing in chorus. My neighbor texted me about my screendoor that keeps banging; I immediately went off from bed and went downstairs, there I saw flooded floor and the sound of the screendoor banging as if asking for help.

Boats were all destroyed

The sound outside was creepy and frightening, it was like there were souls screaming or a multi-headed giant cat purring weirdly. Beside from the screendoor it was also like there were hands knocking on my door and windows. The door was bleeding with water which causes the flood. I need to save my screendoor and the sanity of my neighbor so I opened the door lightly and slowly.. The wind and rain immediately gushed in and I used my right foot to help me hold the door, I cannot see a thing except that the sky was a little dim and gray. I focus myself in closing the screendoor, so I grab the handle and pull it. The screendoor seems heavy because of the wind pull and pushing it, the rain drops were like needles hitting my face and arms. I was terrified as I was closing the screendoor, what if a flying sharp object will fall or hit me? What if my right foot can’t hold it anymore and the furious wind and rain will get inside? What if my roof will ripped off or the glasses of my windows will break? It will be a total disaster for me.

Me and my friend now walking cause we need to save my motor-scooter’s gas since stations were out of order or blockbuster

I have finally pulled the screendoor and now I have to lock it but the lock bar or latch was not cooperating, it did not align and won’t shoot to the lock hole. The screendoor might have been misaligned due to the push and pull movement of the strong wind. The painful rain and the frightening wind panicked me plus it’s too dark and my only flashlight is from my smart watch. I continued locking the screendoor but as I was doing it I took a glimpse of the world as I’m confident that I won’t be hit by sharp flying object unless I will let go of the door. This time I can somehow saw what’s happening, my eyes adapted to the darkness of the night, I can see the wave-like rain, the corrugated metal sheets flying, the flying branches of the tree, and some other things I can’t identify anymore also flying around. I checked my motor-scooter, gladly its doing fine but the cover sheet of it was gone; neighborhood motorcycles were down already and the metal clothes rack was down too, plants are fighting for its life all their leaves were gone and they’re swinging all over.

I’ve finally close my screendoor and all those struggles next thing I did was to get the mop at the back of the house or in the utility area to reduce the flood inside the house. It’s still frightening to go outside but at the back it wasn’t that dangerous since the utility area was kind of secluded and the wind wasn’t that harsh. I was busy removing the flood water when suddenly a large thud sound from above happened. An object fell on my roof, I immediately checked if there’s a leak, good thing there’s none and I’m hoping that the roof will stand the storm, I remembered some footages that roof were flipped over or ripped off by the strong wind.

According to my neighbors the storm started around 6PM. One of my neighbors said they noticed the sky keeps changing color from orange to violet to blue that it looks really a sign of an apocalypse in movies. By 7PM rain started to pour with wind slowly accelerating and getting stronger. On their end during the surge of the typhoon they hear like ocean waves crashing in front of their houses beside from howling and the flying tin sheets.

Plants and trees near seashore turned brown and died

Personally I didn’t expect Odette was a powerful one, we were used by typhoons every last quarter of the year so I thought that it’s just another typical typhoon that rains hard then a typical strong wind, possible 2 to 4hr blackout then everything will be fine the next day. Odette halted everything and brought us back to 20 to 50 years ago kind of living. Where we don’t have lights, electricity, refrigerators weren’t working, no mobile signal, no water in our faucets, drinking water is questionable of where to find, gas stations, ATM, and water refilling stations were either out of order or blockbuster.

It’s an experience that I gained some learnings, take aways, and realizations. Thankfully my family were not badly affected, yeah my mother’s house were destroyed but that can be rebuilt what’s important is they are safe and alive and that’s what I am thankful and grateful for.

Author: Gino Pena

Usually confident and calm, Gino is dynamic, intuitive, and a little grain of shyness. He has a keen active mind that is capable of planning ahead and fast decisions. He tends to give out honest helpful advice in a friendly manner. Gino likes to dress smartly in clothes he feels comfortable. Ambitious but not overly so and can be generous to those he loves.