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Super Typhoon Yolanda Aftermath One Year Later — The Lesson : “Live Life”

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by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Super Typhoon Yolanda changed my Life.

I lived inside “Ground Zero.”

I am a “Survivor.”

One obvious change Yolanda has made to my Life is I am more “aggressive.” Any pretense of patience is completely gone from my Life. I get a project done or I toss it and move on to one I can get done.

One obvious change Yolanda gave me is the opportunity to “Face Death.”

I have had a year to look at my reaction. I should be “Petrified.” I definitely felt, “Concern.”

Today is Saturday, November 8, 2014. A year ago, at “Ground Zero”, I stood in my bedroom and watched the winds of Super Typhoon Yolanda bow the coconut wood door back and forth like a warped, black LP record flexed back and forth.

Three times, Yolanda blew open the door. Three times, I pushed against the wind and intense walls of blowing rain to close the door.

Yolanda took the roof, but she left the thin sheets of plywood over the roof. Although, she did bend one down almost double to continue to pour a persistent waterfall of rain into the room.

Christy Warren, my wife, stood in front of me, and stared out the single window in the wall. I stood behind Christy and had my arms down around her. I watched the door disco dance against the door jab.

I still remember my chant: “You can stop anytime now.”

I have no idea, how many times I repeated those words. Everyone else in the room was quite.

Junea and Vanissa stood behind me. Digna Mora, the cleaning lady, stood behind the girls. Her son, David was under the concrete shelf sink at the back of the room. He fell asleep.

We heard Yolanda’s winds take the tin roof over the bedroom and the abundance of sudden sunlight over the plywood section confirmed the roof had gone airborne.

There was a plywood section for a roof under the tin. The plywood section held, but a sheet of the wood buckled in half.

The wingtip of “my” Archangel Michael statue held up that section of the roof, while the torrential rain poured in and the dry concrete floor began to fill like a swimming pool. The water inside the room would rise to a half-inch before Yolanda ceased her seize.

I remember every second of Yolanda’s bombardment.

Today, a year later, the sun is shining. The temperature is not too hot. Earlier this afternoon around one p.m., there was a nice breeze. A year ago, the phrase “Hell On Earth” had “A Real World” meaning.

I decided not to go to the “Yolanda Commemoration Ceremonies” in Tacloban City and Tanauan because I wanted “The Day” to think about my reaction to Yolanda.

All week long, ABS-CBN has aired the “Survivor Stories.” As a retired military newsman, I understand the decision. People want to know, “What Was It Like ?”

“Scary,” in a word.

The catch is, obviously, there is a limit to how much adrenaline your body pumps in a crisis situation. You sense and feel, “Fear.” But, the “Fear” can’t last.

“Numbness” replaced the initial “Fear” and the “Concern.” I stood at “The Mercy Of A Force Of Nature.” There was absolutely nothing I could do.

Yolanda could of snatched me or anyone else in the room and tossed us against the walls like rag dolls. Yolanda could of tossed any of us out through the roof.

Yolanda could of reached inside the room and pulled any or all of us out through the narrow doorway. Yolanda kept us corralled and “pinned up” in the room until her winds were done outside.

“Thanks To Yolanda, I no longer ‘Fear Death.’”

Naturally, I have “The Death Fantasy” where you lie in bed, surrounded by family and friends who love you. You close your eyes for the last time and “Death” arrives.

If I get “The Death Fantasy” fine; if not, at least, Yolanda, provided the lesson of awareness and acceptance of “Here Comes, The Last Ride ! ”

A year ago, once I heard the winds disappear, I stepped to the door and opened it.

“Stunned,” is the only word that works.

A Child Of The Cold War, I cut my baby teeth on the stories of United States, Soviet Union and Red Chinese Nuclear Armageddon Aftermath.

I remember the Civil Defense lessons in grade school. I got the blue prints I got in the mail from the United States Superintendent Of Documents to “build a bomb shelter in your backyard.”

Momma never let me build the bomb shelter. I couldn’t even convince her to build a basement. I always wanted a basement.

As a teenager, I had watched countless TV shows and movies about The Cold War Nuclear Apocalypse.

As a senior citizen, I stood on the concrete porch and looked at the devastated landscape of the island of Leyte.

No Hollywood Cold War Nuclear Holocaust Movie even came close to Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The brutal sky remained angry swatches of gray. The horizontal canvas was saturated. The rain had stopped and the sky still appeared soaked. The sky around me dripped like running paint on a wet canvas.

The dense emerald vegetation was yanked, pulled and discarded like a giant weedeater had gone ballistic on the landscape.

The huge tree at the corner of the porch had been yanked up by the roots and dropped like a weed at the hole, which moments before had covered the roots.

The 50 to 75 coconut trees in front of the house were gone. Two complete trees stood and four giant busted toothpicks, which had been coconut trees were still embedded in the ground.

Some of the coconut trees had fallen like discarded Lincoln Logs on to the plundered landscape.

Silence.

No sound.

In rural Leyte it is rare for an hour to pass without a rooster crowing somewhere nearby.

Across the barangay road, the neighbor’s bamboo house was gone completely. Christy’s white sari-sari store building was tilted at a 15 degree angle toward the road.

The bamboo carport had served it’s purpose. The bamboo poles were still in the ground. The dried coconut leaves roof had gone airborne.

Fortunately, the carport had stood long enough to keep the van on the ground. The other benefit of the carport, is it helped provide temporary shelter.

When the neighbors across the road, felt their house was going around them, they ran outside to the carport and got next to the van, according to the neighbor woman, they essentially formed a human chain and she held on to the van’s door handle.

Today, I stand with a mug of coffee in my hand and look out at the Land in front of the house. Sunlight bathes the dense vegetation.

We have a tin roof again over the house. The US AID gray tarpaulin still serves as two walls of the house.

I strolled up the barangay road a distance this afternoon. Houses are again beginning to take shape. The rice fields seem to be recovering. The Cameri Barangay Elementary School has a roof again. Neighbors’ roosters chase hens in the school yard and a concrete building in the corner is going up in a corner of the school yard.

Son, Samuel Ranilo Warren got tagged to participate in a Yolanda Commemorative Ceremony in Tacloban City as did cousin,Vanissa Saldana. Daughter, Donna Junea Warren got to “Fly Free” to a girlfriend’s birthday celebration today.

Christy and I have been relaxing around the old Pacific Ponderosa today. One Warren Way got severely remodeled by Super Typhoon Yolanda, but with time, I am sure we will have walls again someday. I need to find a carpenter, I believe, can put my concrete hollow blocks up to build a “Strong” wall.

As a political science and history student, I had memorized the photos of the destruction of “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. A year ago, Yolanda at “Ground Zero” in Tanauan, Barangay Baras delivered the “Destruction” without the radioactive “Fallout.”

November 8, 2014 — Tacloban City reports 6,000 people dead. Officials calculate, at least, 1,061 are still missing. I doubt an accurate “body count” for Super Typhoon Yolanda will ever be firmly established because a tidal wave came ashore and took structures and, no doubt, people back out to The Leyte Gulf and The Pacific Ocean.

The brutal winds of Yolanda took roofs and “bombed out” the insides of churches and smashed all the pews to smithereens. More than a week after Yolanda’s winds, I saw that Yolanda had parked a car and a Chevrolet pickup with the grilles against the ground. The trunk and pickup bed pointed up toward the sky, while the wheels rested on the side of a building.

Super Typhoon Yolanda, a year later, has reminded me of an Important Lesson Of Life: ”Live Life !”

I would emphasize : “Live Life With A Passion !”

Today is Saturday, November 8, 2014.

Tomorrow, at sun rise, my plan, is like the plan for today : “The sun is up. Time to make a cup of coffee and enjoy the day.”

Sam

Written by samwarren55

November 8, 2014 at 11:40 PM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Current Events, Ecology, Editorial, Family, Observances, Philippines, Tropics

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Joplin Tornado Aftermath Reconstruction Underway Photos

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Joplin Tornado Aftermath

Reconstruction Underway Photos

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Sunday, May 22, 20 11 – An EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, Missouri and left 154 people dead.and more than 900 injured. Some reports cite that the EF-5 tornado ranged from one half to three quarters of a mile in length as it moved through the city of 50,150 citizens and left a path of destruction that has been reported as 16 to 22 miles in length with one third of the city destroyed.

As of Friday, June 17, 2011, people in southwest Missouri are still talking about the devastating tornado that reportedly has, “at least two semi tractor trailer trucks leaving every minute through the day to simply haul away all the debris left by the tornado.” Friday afternoon, Christy, my wife and I had the opportunity to see the unimaginable destruction.

Reconstruction Underway - Joplin, Missouri - The May 22, 2011 tornado that stuck Joplin , Missouri is currently credited with killing 154 people and destorying at least one third of this major metropolitan southwest Missouri city. Friday, June 17, 2011, when this photograph was taken, Joplin citizens were still working to clear away the rubble and city crews could be seen working to clear away the massive mountains of debris. This American flag is only one of many that waves from within the barren landscape of destruction. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Back Story

Friday, June 17, 2011 – Ken Sexton and my cousin, Donna, invited my wife, Christy, and I to go with them on an afternoon road trip. Donna had mentioned that we would drive through Joplin to show us the destruction from the Joplin Tornado.

Ken and Donna were two of the many people who had volunteered time on a couple of weekends to help the Joplin survivors to help clear away the construction rubble left by the deadly tornado.

I tossed the camera bag in the car. Ken drove. Donna explained the devastation that they had witnessed only a few days after the tornado. Christy and I listened. I took photographs of the devastation.

Photographic Procedure

We drove through Joplin. While Ken drove, I shot photos. The photos were shot by me using a Canon EOS 40D digital camera. Since the vehicle was moving there is obvious picture blur and camera shake in some of the photographs which were shot through the vehicle windows.

I sat on the left side of the vehicle and my wife, Christy, sat on the right side. I aimed the camera at virtually all the windows at some point to take a photograph. All of the photos were shot by me from inside the moving vehicle.

Since I alternated between shooting out the right and left side windows as well as some shots taken through the windshield, essentially these photos are a series of sequence shots.

Photographic Processing

Back home in Stone County, Missouri, I downloaded the photographs to my laptop to examine. I used the programs, Irfanview and Photoscape to edit the photos. I had shot 133 photos. Some were automatically deleted because of motion blur and camera shake. Since I approach every photography situation like a news photographer, I looked at the information in each photo. The actual shooting situation meant I had to make quick decisions of what to shoot and what to pass on. One deleted photo had a pickup passing through the photo as I clicked the shutter.

Editorial Considerations

As a military newspaper editor, I would always look at a photo for quality and to make sure it supported the story.

In this situation, as the writer, photographer and editor of my personal blog, I wanted photographs that showed not only the obvious destruction, but, also the cleanup underway in the aftermath of the Joplin Tornado to post to my blog.

While I don’t have the financial and human resources of the “Washington Post, “ “New York Times.” or “Time” magazine, I believe, Uncle Sam drove home those basic journalism ethics about the importance of news photos.

None of these photographs are set up, staged or posed. The photographs here are what was captured by the camera. Editing was done on a case by case basis to eliminate distracting elements from the photo or to lighten the photo to keep it from becoming a silhouette. Some photos were left “full frame” and not edited.

Radical Cropped Photos

Some of these photos, I had to “radically crop” to eliminate distracting elements like the outline of the vehicle window and save the basic photo. Since the later photos were shot as evening was approaching, I used Photoscape’s 100 percent Backlight function to add light to the foreground of the photo.

Example Photo - In this photo, my wife, Christy Warren points at some of the destruction from the Joplin Tornado of Sunday, May 22, 2011. Since all of my photos of the aftermath of the Joplin Tornado were shot from a moving vehicle, I had to edit out any elements that might be distracting to the overall photo like the natural framing of the automobile window. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr,

Some of the photos are essentially “full frame” because I did not see any distracting elements in the photo. While Backlight might of improved the visual quality of a couple of these photos, I chose not to use that function to pass on the actual condition of the afternoon sky.

One photo of a building with an American flag was almost a silhouette and contained an obvious solar lens flare at the edge of the photo. I did not crop out the lens flare because I had shot the photo through a car window. I did use Photoscape’s Contrast Enhancement and 100 percent Backlight function to keep the photo from becoming a silhouette.

I held back on the urge to edit photos. The majority of the editing was to crop out the natural framing of the subject by the moving automobile window.

Criticism, Critique, Comments Appreciated

I’m an old retired military newsman, who loves to write and shoot photos. If the photos that I have published in my blog serve to increase the awareness of students, teachers, civilian officials and people in the public about the real threat of tornadoes and that knowledge helps to save lives, then, these photos have succeeded in presenting the information.

People who wish to criticize, critique or comment on any of the photos are welcome to use the comment form on my blog. I’m one of those people who usually gets tons of email spam and advertisements from mindless Internet programming robots, so usually I just periodically delete emails without reading them.

I do read and usually respond to comments on my blog because I like to hear from readers, who take the time to read the articles and look at the photos on my blog. To my readers, I say Thank you for taking the time to read the articles and look at the photos.

Foto Fact File

Not everyone will be able to visit Joplin, Missouri and look at the destruction with their own two eyes. I would like to think the readers of my blog will have the opportunity to look at these pictures and get a sense of the destruction for themselves. Readers, I would hope will also notice that the citizens of Joplin, Missouri are rebuilding despite the immense level of destruction.

This building was one of the first signs of destruction by the Joplin Tornado of May 22, 2011 that we noticed as we entered into Joplin. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

These photos represent the first twenty of the more than 100 photographs of the Joplin Tornado damage seen on June 17, 2011.  Once I have all the photographs finished then I will post a gallery or a slideshow of the photographs of the damage.

Sam

Wikipedia 2011 Joplin Tornado http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Joplin_tornado

Wikipedia Joplin, Missouri http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joplin,_Missouri

 

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Sam I Am Blog Newsflash Update !!!  —

Thursday, June 23,2011—-

GALENA, MISSOURI — I now have more than one hundred photo of the cleanup and reconstruction underway in Joplin, Missouri after the May 22 EF-5 Tornado.

St. John's Mercy Hospital - Joplin, Missouri - The night that the tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, my wife, Christy and I were listening to the storm coverage on KTTS-FM, broadcasting out of Springfield, Missouri, in Greene County. In our home, in Stone County, near Galena, Missouri, Christy and I listened to the storm coverage while the winds grew outside our home. This hospital was one of the first reports of major damage to Joplin that was aired, while the tornado was still moving through the city. Initial broadcast reports stated that the staff had begun to move patients to other local hospitals before the tornado hit. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr. Joplin Tornado Hospital Damage Photo 2 of 14

There are 20 photos on my blog, but I now have an album on imgpur that readers can go to and see for themselves what it looks like to “Stand Inside The Center Ring Of Hell” and know there is a world beyond the Apocalpytic destruction.

Here is the link: http://samwarren55.imgur.com

Sam

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