Water Closet for 11-22-13 Typhoon Haiyan Philippines
Earlier this month millions of eyes were on satellite images of a vast whirling disk of saturated air approaching and then passing over the Philippines. Its water came to hundreds of tropical islands from rain and in waves of seawater. Massive amounts came fast and hard. As with Sandy the people had been warned, but how could they possibly have been ready? Imagine several Sandys ganged up on the East Coast and you have Haiyan.
Ten thousand miles away in the Water Closet, we again took out our well worn National Geographic atlas. It was opened to the Philippine page and memories flooded back to us old timers upon seeing WWII names such as Bataan, Corregidor, Leyte Gulf, Luzon, Mindanao, and now poor battered Tacloban just northwest of Leyte Gulf.
One old Closeteer, who visited the Philippines several times long ago, thanks to the U.S. Navy, sees the Haiyan victims suffering and silently weeps. In his 80 years he has heard of way too much misery around the world. Strangely, while watching unending images of the destruction in the wake of Haiyan, the pleasant smells of Luzon’s forests and farmlands returned. Hours west of Manila before the first mountains came into view, the land’s odors came on strong after days at sea. Once on shore outside the bustling port of Subic Bay, he found handsome people living among fruit trees and crops in open stilted houses above their animals. He remembers small horses pulling two wheel carts called calesas on narrow unpaved roads. The air was soft and warm as were the watery sounds of Tagalog, one the native languages.
Pansoy and Ancheta, the two Philippinos on his ship, also spoke English and perhaps some Spanish. We must remember Ferdinand Magellan came five centuries ago and claimed the land for Spain. Four centuries later the United States did much the same. During WWII the Japanese Army took over and raised havoc until General MacArthur’s heralded return. After the war the Filipinos got their country back and evidently changed the Spanish names on their maps. We Closeteers were pleased to read native names in our post independence map.
The latest invader was Haiyan. This typhoon’s warm-wet-air spun over a front as wide as our East Coast is long. Record winds knocked buildings down and stripped trees left standing. Along the many islands’ shores waves washed over all. Accompanying rain loosened soils sending them running down to the lowlands and out into the sea. Landslides followed. Thousands of people died. It will be awhile before the world knows for sure how many. Homeless and without communications they were overwhelmed.
Here, we too are overwhelmed with images, previews of what may be our fate. Haiyan slid in off the South Pacific. What will the next great storm sliding off the warming Atlantic do to us if it sends in waves 20 feet high and drops over a foot of rain? Climatologists say that with the increased energy in the oceans and atmosphere we may see storms beyond our ken.
Let us wisely anticipate them and spend time and money with international teams of nations in preparation for environmental changes not war. Maybe fear of water, water prayed for during droughts, will wash away hate and corrode our war machines. Mother Nature will continue to be much loved and at times a much feared enemy, one that we must wisely learn to live with. Substitute Mother Nature for those parts of religions that lead to wars between us; unmoral nature is preferred.
It is midnight in the Water Closet. As windows gently rattle in the breeze, good, perhaps childish thoughts bubble forth from old minds. Stream Teamers watching brooks and a small river can but wish and hope for a united front that embraces and protects Mother Nature while preparing for her excesses. Is there any other rational way for a creative can-do species? Let’s at least try. What have we got to lose?