Thursday, July 10, 2014

Super Typhoon Neoguri World!

Last week at Ginoza Elementary, the principal announced that Typhoon Neoguri (Typhoon #8) was projected to hit Okinawa. As a Floridian, nothing under a Category 3 Hurricane fazes me but when they announced that Typhoon Neoguri had the same strength as 1992's Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 Hurricane that devastate all of South Florida, I knew I was in for it.
Stocking up on supplies was easy and since my apartment is solid concrete, I knew that I wouldn't have any real damage aside from a possible broken window. Moreover, because there is only one window in my apartment, actually a large sliding door, I knew I could take refuge in the kitchen, shower, or toilet room.
As Typhoon Neguri closed in on Okinawa, the typhoon suddenly changed course and the center would slightly miss Okinawa but travel close to the west of the island. Although it wouldn't be considered a direct hit, I knew from experience that the inner and outer bands could cause enough damage to shut down the island. This was a massive typhoon, or so it seemed compared to the tiny, tiny island that is Okinawa.
It's customary in Florida to have the day off before a hurricane strikes in order to party prepare or evacuate. I assume the Okinawa would take the same precautions, but boy was I wrong. The day before the typhoon I was beside myself with anger. The principal called an emergency meeting and announced that if the buses canceled their services for the following day, we were not to come to work but take nenkyuu (paid holiday).
Did you read what I just wrote?
I had to wait for Okinawa's bus companies to cancel their services in order to know whether or not schools would be closed! When the f$%# did bus companies become meteorologists? And why do I have to take a paid holiday off?
No one at work could confirm that school would be canceled. When I asked, their response was 「台風くるかなぁ」 or "Will the typhoon come?" I just mentally screamed, "Will the typhoon come?! The f%&$ do you mean will it come? It's coming people!" I could not handle the bureaucracy and although I love Japan and Okinawa, their vagueness over something as serious as a natural disaster really "tap danced on my nerves." Later that Monday evening, the bus companies canceled services for the following day.

See that long island to the right of the eye? That's Okinawa!
I moved my dead potted plants and drying rack inside and awaited the storm. Later in the night I heard the winds pick up, but I peacefully slept through the night. Tuesday morning, Typhoon Neoguri hit Okinawa with relentless winds. When I looked outside, I saw telephone polls, power lines and trees swaying in the wind. My apartment, which was built to withstand earthquakes, also began to gently sway. My phone rang constantly with emergency text warning various cities to evacuate due to landslides and flood, and it wasn't before long that I lost power.
I spent most of the morning messaging friends and family, but I kept my phone powered by using my laptop and an external Iphone battery. I read books and played DS the entire day until I feel asleep.
We had a meme off that day. My messages are on the right
The following morning, no one knew what to do about work. The buses had resumed service, but the weather clearly indicated that the typhoon had not completely passed. I contacted my town's middle school ALT, who told me that he was expected at work. If he was expected at work, then so was I. I began to dress for work but half way through, he sent a text saying morning classes were canceled, and that he was sent home. Later, they said he needed to take nenkyuu for going home, even though they sent him home. It doesn't make sense! I was so confused and, since my classes were canceled, I decided to stay home. Around 1pm, the weather cleared but my phone was down to 3%. I made a trip to the BOE (Wednesday afternoons are my BOE days) to charge all of my electronics. I thought they would question as to why I wasn't at work, but they only asked if I was alright. They are too good to me!
I stayed there playing on the computer working until it was time to leave. The power returned, but the Internet was still down until I contacted my Internet service providers, who sent workers to my apartment.

First typhoon of the season and hopefully the last!

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