It started raining during the night. The wind was picking up. During the Toledo missionary district meeting the electricity went off.
Elder Hall, what do you know about the storm?
Well, I know that it is raining.
Is there a typhoon coming?
There has been nothing on the news.
The members are telling us there is a typhoon coming. They say if it passes through Mindanao, it will hit Cebu Island. It is called Seniang.
We drove to Pinamungajan. As we drove along the seashore, the ocean was rough. The rain continued. When we got back to our apartment, Elder Hall checked the internet.
There is a storm building. It looks like it will hit Mindanao. We might be on the edge of it…unless it turns north.
We did some shopping and other errands. As we drove along the waterfront down by the market, wind-driven waves crashed over the seawall and splashed against the market front.
At 11 pm the telephone rang.
Who could be calling? Why a call instead of a text?
The call was from the Lutopan elders. Water was coming into their apartment.
Okay, there probably isn’t anything we can do about the water in this wind and rain. We will come and get you. You can stay with the Zone Leaders tonight.
The street going through town was flooded. Farther on it was blocked by a downed tree. We turned and went another way. As we drove toward Lutopan, water flowed across the road in several places. The water did not quite come up to the floorboards.
I didn’t realize that there were any low spots on this road. I thought it was all uphill into the mountains. Elder Hall, how can you tell where the edge of the road is?
We started up a hill. The wind continued to blow the rain across the road but the water no longer puddled up.
I have never seen this road without traffic before!
A river of muddy water poured off the mountainside, washing basketball-sized rocks onto the roadway. There were trees down along the road. As we drove on, another torrent ran across the road.
We turned through the gate into the housing complex where the missionaries live. We edged along the road, then stopped.
I’m going to walk down to the missionary’s house.
Don’t you want an umbrella?
The wind will just tear it up.
I watched Elder Hall’s flashlight bob down the road through a curtain of rain.
After a while I saw a light down the hill. As it moved closer, I saw that it was Elder Hall’s flashlight.
I am going to drive father down the road. The missionaries will meet us there.
We pulled past the narrow lane that led to the missionary apartment, and turned around to wait for them. There were car lights down the lane. After a while, a man walked up to us through the rain.
Do you want to go down that road?
No, we are just waiting here for the missionaries.
Okay, because my car is stuck.
He walked back down the narrow lane and turned his car lights off.
The rain seemed to lessen as we drove back to Toledo. We passed two motorcycles that were being pushed by the drivers.
Looks like the motors flooded out in the puddles.
We passed a place where there had been a fallen tree when we drove past on the way to Lutopan. Now a twenty-foot-high retaining wall above the road had collapsed under the force of the water and mud. Trees, boulders and mud almost blocked the road. We were able to skirt the edge of the slide.
As we drove through a flooded street in Toledo, a man waded across the road. The water came almost to his knees.
The rain and wind stopped about 3 am. The electricity was out until the next evening. The Toledo District Christmas beach party scheduled for the next day was cancelled.
At first light, people started cleaning up water. Men worked with chain saws and machetes (bolos) to remove fallen trees. A man sat by the side of the road and removed the leaves from branches with his bolo. He took the sticks home for his cooking fire.
Crowds gathered at the ferry office early in the morning hoping for a ferry to take them home for New Years.
We took drinking water to a family who had no electricity and therefore, no water from their faucet. When we got back to Toledo, we stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast. McDo’s has a generator and so was one of the few places in town with lights. Elder Hall talked to a man as we stood in line.
Are you from Australia or Norway?
So where are you from?
I am from England.
The man’s tray was ready and he picked it up.
They are out of everything I want today. I wanted coffee but they are out. I wanted a muffin but they are out. This must be the out house.
We visited a family who had to wade through nearly two feet of water to get into their house.
Will the water drain away?
There is no place for it to go. We just need sunshine.
Yes, sunshine and wind to dry the water away.
Many of the Christmas lights in the city plaza were torn away by the wind, and some of the Christmas trees were damaged.
But the fireworks stands were doing a good business. On New Year Eve the fireworks were as bright as ever, and the people all exchanged wishes for a wonderful new year. The sun was sure to come out again.