One of the benefits of apartment living for us (I might say the only benefit) has been that when a storm of any magnitude comes the responsibility for cleanup and prep largely lies with someone else. That was the case this past weekend when Dorian hit and we, with the exception of a loss of power for four hours after dinner, escaped unscathed. Others were not so lucky, and the topic of sore backs, the love of hot showers, and the zombies lining up for hours for bad coffee was the topic of many recent conversations.
Being the Gentle Island whenever the wind picks up some level of devastation follows.
Incidentally, it was 3 years ago this month that I experienced another storm, a typhoon this time, right after I landed in Fuzhou.
We were pretty accustomed, as much as you can be, to the yearly onslaught of cat 1-5 typhoons that wreak havoc on Taiwan, China and the Philippines. Living in the Hsinchu Science Park meant that we were well protected, the power never went out, and flooding was at a minimum. But we still would be prepared with fresh water and food in case the need arose.
I was entirely unprepared when I first landed in China. For some reason the company’s HR department required my arrival just as everyone was about to go on a week long holiday. The logic behind this was never explained and it was one of the many mysteries of working there. Since there was no one to show me to my apartment on the new campus I was given temporary accommodations at one of the dorms in the city. And then after a meal of dumplings left alone for a week. Which is fine, I’m in China, on holiday, lots to see. Except, I couldn’t leave the city until all my papers were sorted, which would take longer because people were all on holiday.
I had about a day before the rain started and during that time I covered as much by foot as I could of the sprawling city of Fuzhou. I’m not sure why but for some reason when I went back to my room that night I brought water but no food. Perhaps, it was due to the typhoon being downgraded to a simple tropical storm, which in my mind meant business as usual.
Unfortunately, in the part of the city I was staying in, rain meant flooding, and flooding meant sewage everywhere. So when the storm struck I was stuck in my dorm room. The murky water wasn’t deep, only up to my knees, but any cut from the debris might bring along all kinds of maladies. So at the behest of the building security guard I stayed put.
On PEI Dorian brought out best in some Islanders, and in China as well there were moments of kindness. As the day went on people were checking in via WeChat, there were frequent offers from my new colleagues to come and fetch me, or have food delivered. There were still some restaurants open nearby with people willing to risk the possibility of infection, but I hadn’t yet started the long arduous process of setting up WeChat Wallet, so I had no way to pay. It was the security guard who came to my aid first. Noticing that as the day dragged on I still had nothing to eat he insisted I share his dinner. Which I did, and thanked him as best I could. His simple act of kindness made an otherwise dreary day all the brighter.
By the next day the water receded and the legions of workers came out to clean up the mess. A week later I was settled in my apartment on the new campus by the beach.