China - Taiwan Province

Taiwan: Blog - 'The end of the world'

Format
Other
Source
Posted
Originally published
Origin
View original
Diary of Jiang Hui-Zhen, World Vision staff and Typhoon Morakot survivor

Ms. Jiang Hui-Zhen is a social worker for World Vision in Taiwan who lived with her large extended family in Minzu Village. She had been stranded near the village, which was buried by landslides, for three days before being airlifted to a shelter on 11 August.

We heard about the typhoon alert Thursday night, but we did not pay much attention. Since it was the day before Father's Day and all my sisters returned home, we bought much food to prepare a feast for our father and to ensure food was available through the typhoon days.

It started with small rain on Friday, but turned into a torrential downpour on Sunday evening. I heard a growling sound from the mountain, and suddenly mudslides rushed into the village and even into my house!

We rushed to a higher floor of our house, but my husband quickly saw a much greater danger coming. My whole family of more than ten, including children and elderly, started to run out of the house for our lives.

Fleeing to higher ground

Many other villagers, just like us, were running toward the highest ground in the village. Men began to give directions, and we supported each other on our escape.

I was panicked! As a mother of three, I held one's hand, clasped another against my chest and carried the other on my back, running and running. I told myself I must keep my children alive....

They cried all the way. The oldest one, age 6, who walked beside me, begged, "Mom, please hold me. I'm exhausted!" There was nothing I could do except repeating to her, "We're almost there."

I climbed and climbed, knowing that otherwise my children would die.

It was a trail of 200 meters, but felt like 2 kilometers to me. We were not just walking, but running and climbing, with my three young children.

It was a rugged path, but we helped each other and pushed forward step by step. It must have been our collective will to live that helped me make it to the top.

Tragedy

I had thought the entire village evacuated, but when we reached the high ground, about 20 to 30 people were missing. In the following three days, they were never seen again.

We took shelters separately. Some stayed in the makeshift huts for farmers, and the others used tarps to build tents.

Torrents of rain never stopped. It was so cold at night. We gave the children as much clothes as we could, and used black big garbage bags to keep ourselves warm.

When cooking, we cut off bamboo shoots to make a fire. Those whose houses were not completely buried took the risk to return home and dig out some food. Whatever we had, we shared. We wanted everyone to live.

With so little food to share among so many, we gave most of it to children and elderly.

My child asked, "Mommy, you ate so little. Aren't you hungry?" I said in my heart, "I only hope you can live."

Isolated

We were isolated on the top of a mountain for three days. I was so afraid we would all die there. It was just like the Bible story of Noah's Ark... the end of the world!

The children could not sleep well. One night, when I heard a 10-month-old baby crying breathlessly, and knowing his mother could do nothing about it, I asked God, "Are we all going to die here? Even including this young baby?"

When we saw the first helicopter on Tuesday, we waved our clothes madly because it was our only hope, our only way out.

I was among the first to be rescued because we are a family with many young children. Each round could only pick up eight persons, and the weather conditions were very bad. When it turned dark or rained too hard, the rescue operation had to halt.

When I finally reached the shelter in Neimen Township, I saw a news report on TV that my mother and stepfather who live in Liouguei Township are on the list of missing people. I completely broke down.

I am so worried and fear for our future. Now my house, my children's school, my office... all the wonderful memories in my life, are gone. What are we going to do?

Returning to work

But I can't let my misery defeat me. I started to work today. I put on my World Vision vest and started to help the shelter staff to compile a list of evacuees. By plunging myself into work, I hope to help other survivors to return to normal soon, and for myself, to temporarily forget about my worries.