Nothing we did prepared us for the horrifying experience we had the night of the
storm. It was November 11, 1962, and the announcements of Typhoon Condition One were blaring on
the radio and television. People were being warned to seek shelter. Instructions on stocking up
food, water, flashlights, batteries and the need to not come out during the peak of the storm or when the eye passed over making it appear that the storm was relenting--all these were being reiterated over and over. This was not unusual. We had many typhoons come our way, and we had become accustomed to the typical typhoon preparation alert.
As a matter of fact, the typhoon preparation and the actual experience of riding out the storm
bordered on the fun side for me as a child. There would be lots of food--crackers and jams,
bread, peanut butter, powdered milk and there would be canned goods galore.
My father and older brothers would board up all the windows and tie down the
house. They would trim off all the leaves on the banana trees to keep them from being totally
uprooted and do whatever needed to be done to protect our livestock. We had cows, pigs, chickens
and ducks. They would also bed down all loose objects to keep them from becoming missiles
and causing damage to life and property.
Our house had withstood many typhoons before so we were not overly concerned. Our family decided not go to a shelter but to stay put at home. The windows were boarded up, and the house was tied down. This would be safe. However, as the storm progressed, we realized the old house might not stand. We quickly grabbed what we could and ran over to my brother David's place. David lived with his wife, an infant daughter, and a toddler. His house was recently built, and it had concrete stilts. Certainly it would not go anywhere. However, the force of the storm ripped off the roof, and water was pouring down in torrents through the ceiling drenching the frightened occupants inside. Some of the plyboard ceilings blew off, and we feared that some would fall on us.
The sound of the storm was deafening like a thousand freight trains coming at us. The house was groaning and ready to collapse. We felt we were all going to be crushed to death. Fearing that the ceiling would fall on us, we decided the best thing to do was go under the house. The floor would offer some protection from falling debris. We opened the door to get out, but the force of the wind was so strong, it nearly tore off the door. The rain pelted us and felt like needles pricking us on our bare arms and faces. We had never experienced anything like this before. We thought we were going to die.
In fear and desperation we turned to the God of Heaven. We prayed for His angels to save us from total destruction. My Mother started reciting Psalm 91, and we all joined in. Amazingly, the recitation of this Psalm calmed our troubled souls. Comfort and peace filled our hearts, and we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the angels of God, a myriad of them, were riding out the storm with us.
Obviously, no one slept that night. At daylight, the storm receded, and the rain stopped. We went outside to access the damages. We couldn't believe what we saw. The roofs of houses were blown off, and some homes were flattened to the ground. Hardly a tree was standing. Cars that were parked
in front of homes were now found in the back. Boats tied securely on the docks before the
storm were found several miles inland after the storm.
Nothing like this had ever occurred in Guam before. This was something you read about in
the papers happening somewhere, far, far away. Despite the magnitude of the
devastation that we saw around us, our hearts were grateful beyond measure that our lives were spared. We lifted up our voices in thanksgiving, praise, and adoration to the great God of the Universe--the God who maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Ps 107:29.
I remembered the first church service we had after the storm. At Yigo Baptist Church, everyone, happy to be alive,
formed a large circle holding hands, thanking and praising God for His marvelous intervention
by sending His angels and protecting us from harm and danger.
Typhoon Karen left its marks on Guam in 1962. It was the worst disaster recorded
in the history of the island up to that time. The winds gusted to 250 miles per hour. There were
eight people who perished in that storm. The papers reported that had the storm occurred during
the day, more people would have been killed for they would have tried to seek shelter in the most dangerous and forbidding circumstances.
God is good and marvelous in all His ways. His love is from everlasting to everlasting,
and His mercy endures to all generations. May honour, glory and praise go to His Holy Name
for His wonderful works to the children of men!