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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

As you can imagine I read a tons of blog everyday and lately everyone has been writing about Hurricane Katrina and her effects. In no way do I want to minimize the devastation she has caused to the Gulf Coast. I have never lost a family member or friend in a hurricane but growing up on Guam I have lived through my fair share of typhoons. Basically they are different names for the same thing, when you mix water and wind; the results can be very destructive. Read more about the differences here.

Our first typhoon was Super Typhoon Pamela (May 1976), with wind gusts of 140-160 mph and up to 187 mph. Our family was living in an apartment and after the water began to creep into our home, we fled to a friend’s home. We stayed there for a while, I don’t recall how long but when were came back to our apartment, it was gone. Pamela destroyed abut 90% of all the homes on Guam.

Over the next, 16 years or so, until I left for college, we experienced many typhoons, Russ, Omar, Yuri, Pongsona, and more. When a tropical storm approaches the island, it’s obvious because of the rain. If that storm somehow metamorphoses into a typhoon, Guam has a typhoon warning system that alerts its people. It’s not a perfect system but it helps. When the island has reached Condition 2, a typhoon is predicted to strike in 24 hours. Now is the time to stock up on food, water, batteries, candles, and other emergency supplies. Also windows are boarded up, animals are taken indoors and as many things as possible are secured around our home. Condition 1, means the typhoon is due in 12 hours. People who still live in non-concrete homes rush to schools and take shelter there as they wait for the storm to pass.

After the storms it was quite normal not to have running water for a couple of weeks and not to have any electricity for a few weeks also. I remember as a child taking a bath in a 50 gallon oil drum that we had places outside to collect rain. As a teenager I even ran off to the beach to watch the big waves roll in. On year when I was away at school, Guam was hit by 5 typhoons in a row. My sister Kentra has a t-shirt that proclaims she is a Typhoon Ace since she survived all 5. There are two typhoons however that I am glad not to have experienced. Typhoon Karen (Nov. 1962), it is said there was so much rain when she slammed into the island that graves floated up from their resting places. Super Typhoon Paka is infamous and will remain so until another Super Typhoon replaces him. With wind gust of up to 236 mph, it caused 500 million dollars of damage to Guam but miraculously no one was killed.

I feel for all those suffering from Hurricane Katrina. May the Gulf Coast make a speedy recovery.


At 3:55 PM, Blogger Gia said...

We no longer use Condition 4-1 anymore. We use COR - Condition of Readiness...it's sort of the same, however, on our latest typhoon (earlier this week) the governor declared COR1 when winds were at 39 mph+. Schools were closed as we the bulk of GovGuam. The military has a different threshold for COR and remained open as did the Mall. It caused a bit of confusion after the fact. See the military's MO regarding typhoons here: http://www.guam.navy.mil/Fleet%20Family%20Support/WEB/TYPHOON%20INFO.doc

At 5:33 PM, Blogger bert671 said...

typhoon? oh we should all be prepared for that now. anyone else who acts all surprised is just an idiot or just new to the island.
even some experts i bet were getting ready to line up at the FEMA line to get some.

anyway, i kinda liked last week. the rain, the muggy weather and all. it gave me a chance to take moody photos.

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous trench said...

Its really sad how things are being handled down in the southern states. Im glad Guam is very prepared for storms.

At 2:28 AM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

I am glad Guam is prepared too. Last night at drinks, I was talking to a friend of our and he mentioned that Americans, have short memories. Remember Hurricane Andrew that wiped out Florida? I guess Guamanians experience storms so much we know not to mess around with them.

At 3:53 AM, Blogger bert671 said...

on one of the talk radio shows i listen to. they were mentioning about how the people just weren't or didn't know really how to prepare for these kinds of disasters.
existence is about adapting with your environment and some people are just too lax about it.

anyway, too late for all that now. lets just hope they get all the help and food they need.

At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an experience to live through all those typhoons. Your sister's shirt describes it accurately -- "Typhoon Ace."



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