Monday, August 16, 2004

My experience with Typhoon Rananim (revised edition 20040817)

On August 12, 2004, Taizhou witnessed Typhoon Rananim, the most powerful typhoon to hit China since 1997. Typhoon Rananim, the 14th this year, pacing high-velocity winds up to 160 km/hour, killed 106 people, left 11 missing, injured 2,845 people as well as knocking down 46,900 houses in Taizhou. Many of the injuries were caused by collapsing homes. As a local inhabitant, I had a terrible experience.

Taizhou is a coastal city in China's eastern Zhejiang province. From an administrative standpoint, Taizhou is more than just a city. The local government covers four surrounding counties, plus the two mid-sized cities of Linhai and Wenling. All in all, the administrative area of Taizhou covers some 9,400 square km and has a population of 5.5 million.

The eye of the storm made landfall at about 8 PM in the coastal city of Wenling which is under the control of Taizhou. From morning to evening that day in Taizhou city, Rananim brought torrential rains and winds. I came back from my office to my house at 2:15 PM. The rainstorm accompanying Typhoon Rananim was so severe that I had a difficult time controlling my motor scooter. It almost fell down at least three times. All the while, I had to be careful of flying shop signboards, which were hitting people's arms and legs like knives. The wind was very strong. I had never seen anything like it before. It was both a horrible and exciting time. When I got home and opened the door to the balcony, I heard a loud noise. Oh, my god! The solar water heater from the uppermost floor of my apartment building was blown down to the ground. It was luck that no man was in the ground that time. If anyone had been on the street below the building, I hesitate to think of what could have happened. Many objects landed on my balcony, having flown through the air. It was a real mess!

In Taizhou that day, lots of trees and electricity pylons were toppled. The electrical power was knocked out completely, and neither power nor water was available from 3:00 PM until the next day. From 4:00 PM to about 5:30 PM, there was no telephone or Internet service. I sat in my living room and read something interesting that afternoon. I had no candles in my apartment, and my emergency lamp did not work. The only light that I had was from my laptop. I used my laptop to connect to the Internet for about one hour that evening. I was hesitant to use it too long because I did not know if there would be power the next day. Fortunately, I did have both power and water service by the next evening. But there were some areas in Taizhou that did not have power and water service. Even as of today, power and water supplies have not returned to normal.

The Taizhou city government urged every office to have at least one person on duty on both Saturday and Sunday. I was assigned to work tomorrow, August 15, 2004. So I had to have my day off at my office.

Acknowledgements: I wrote this post on Aug.14. Dr. Carolyn Allemand checked it over for me and I made it for revised edition on Aug.15. Now the loss has been defined so I use the new and right one. I give a brief introduction about Taizhou in the 2nd paragraph too. I greatly appreciate Dr. Carolyn Allemand’s help.


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