We were expecting a typhoon. The news on the internet said it would be about as strong as Katrina, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. We get several larger than Katrina in an average year. Everything that can blow away, blew away long ago. We came home around eight on the evening of the seventh. The roads were dry.
It started to rain soon after we got home, and the wind came up to blow not much later. Ho hum, what better to do during a typhoon than sleep? I woke up during the night, the wind was blowing and the rain was raining, typical typhoon, back to sleep. Chao woke around first light and saw a bright flash in the sky, like lightning. The power was out, but that’s nothing unusual for a typhoon.
By ten in the morning, the typhoon had pretty well passed, except for some gusts. Some trees had broken, there was water everywhere, pretty much your typical typhoon. So far the only thing atypical was that it washed our window screens. I didn’t even bother to pay attention to the name of the typhoon, which was Soudelor.
After lunch, the power hadn’t come back on, which was unusual. The phone was dead, the cellphones didn’t have any signal, and we couldn’t go online. The stream out front seemed to be roaring especially loud, so we decided to go ask the neighbors if they had electricity.
When we got down to the road, we realized things were pretty bad. The road was all ripped up by the water. Neighbors told us that the stream overflowed into the power plant, which blew up: thus the flash Chao saw. There was no electricity, and the roads were all cut. Everybody’s water was cut (we lay our own pipes from spring to home). There were big and small slides everywhere. Wulai was out of touch with the outside world, even the neighboring tribal villages.
The typhoon was not particularly big, but it came all at once. Within about twelve hours, we got about four feet of rain. Roads were cut, landslides were everywhere, the oldest tribal elders had never seen such a mess in Wulai. For that, we have consumers to thank, people who flock to Wulai for the hotsprings, drawing investors, who care only about profits and nothing about local life. They built in places that cut off the flow of water. That proved disastrous.
I will be posting photos on Flickr.