It is the first time I have had twigs, leaves and branches in the shower with me in the morning, although I know for many others it is a lot worse. Now the wind seems to have calmed down now in Manila, the rain continues, Typhoon Nesat paid us a close visit today. Even though it landed 200kms north of us – Manila was still put under storm signal two, with 9 more unfortunate areas in the Phillipines under signal three.  As you can see from the image Nesats reach is huge – extending 100’s of miles. Here in Manila we have been hit by its flailing arms – almost continuous torrential rain and very strong gusts of winds.  Halfway through this mornings meeting with my fellow Jesuits one of the largest trees here in the Loyola House of Studies was just uprooted – falling conveniently into the gap between the chapel and our bedrooms (see the video clip below). If thats what it can do from over 200kms away, God knows the damage it is causing near the centre.  According the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, there has already been $2.4billion damage this Typhoon season.

I’m told that Typhoon season can last from April – November with sometimes up to 20 being recorded, i,e those that have been upgraded from tropical storms. Winds over 100km per hour raises a storms status to a typhoon – and above 200km per hour to a super-typhoon.  We were perilously close to that but as you can see from the tracking image below the windspeed seems to have come down a bit when it hit land this morning.  The developing storm has been tracked since the end of last week – its international name is Nesat, but once it entered the Phillipines Area of Responsibility (about 400kms off coast) it was given the local name Pedring.

Typhoon2000.com is an excellent site for tracking events

So apart from the drama of the tree fall, and a sleepless night we are all ok. However over 100,000 were evacuated from Central Luzon, and as I write this Pedring is cutting a swathe through some of the most fertile farming areas just before harvest time. The other concern here in Manila are the rivers – two years ago our local river burst its banks and killed 60people from the shantys.  Referred to as squatters – the rubbish that is left in the drainage channels generally exacerbates any flooding – and as always it is the poorest who have the least protection.  I pray that they may be kept safe.

Below is a small clip taken from the roof here at ‘Loyola Heights’  to give you a flavour of the amount of rain and some of the milder gusts of winds (i.e when it was safe to film). Watching the force of the wind – I can see now why Bamboo is a good metaphor for being centered and flexible. Watching the huge Bamboo plants sway gracefully in the wind was mesmerising – whilst the biggest and stiffest tree was just snapped over in an instant.  Anyway when the wind settles I am going off to help with the clear up – and I hope there is no greater need down by the river.

 

#Update 4.30pm (9.30GMT) – Marikina River in Manila reaches critical level at 18 meters, forced evacuation in effect. Please pray for the people most affected. If needed Jesuits here will organise blankets and food later on for those who need help.