Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tacloban, Part VII

A concrete and rebar ammo bunker that got ripped apart by the storm surge. Really.
We landed at Tacloban Airport with not a clue what we were supposed to be doing. There were six of us and only two of us had an explicit job. The Air Force CCT guys were suppose to assess the airfield and get it up and running. The rest of us were supposed to support them.

We had food and water to get us until the next day’s resupply, but the weight restrictions had been so tight and the Air Force CCT kit was so heavy, we had not been able to pack much of anything else. No tent.

We did have six mattresses, little foam pads, twin sized, wrapped in plastic. One of the guys had a hammock, which he strung up in a baggage trolley, so I took his mattress and mine. I laid mine out on the ground and set a heavy tuffbox on each end. Given that I am 5’9” tall and the mattress was barely 6’ long, this shortened my bed considerably, but the rain was coming on and I needed an overhead shelter. I laid the second mattress across the top of the two boxes and weighted down the ends with another box and some large rocks. As homeless shelters go, I’ve seen worse.

The rain started around 10:30 PM. At first it was no more than a steady, cheerful shower, not too cold, just exceedingly wet. I was stripped down to a pair of shorts and my Merrel Trail Glove running shoes, which can get as wet as you like without being ruined, or even especially uncomfortable, so I didn’t mind a little damp. That is fortunate, since I was destined to be quite damp indeed before morning.

At first all I had to worry about was the splashing of gargantuan raindrops in the puddles that rapidly formed around my cozy little dwelling place. Then water puddled on the top mattress and it sagged and when I moved it poured its burden off one edge, onto the bottom mattress. In no time at all I was lying on my side in a puddle. My shelter lasted about an hour before so much water soaked through the holes in the plastic that the mattress was completely sodden, and began to drip continuously. Then, just to put the cherry on top, it began to downpour torrentially. Yes. That is a word.
Home Sweet Home!! (There used to be another tuffbox holding up the left side.)

I have spent more comfortable nights, but all in all, it could have been worse. At least it was a warm rain, and I had some overhead cover. You might not think that makes much of a difference, but the truth is that it does. It is one thing to sleep in a puddle, but when you are wearing next to nothing and it is warm enough, it actually is not that bad. However, continually having torrential tropical depression type rain pounding into you, splashing on your face, chest, back, legs, etc. that is something else entirely. Each rain drop, in hitting you, emphasizes the overall discomfort, wakes you up again, and generally just brings your focus back to the here and now. I assure you it is hardly conducive to a restful night’s sleep.

The worst thing was actually my right hip. It turned into a pressure point because I was sleeping on my side and didn’t have room to stretch out, and the mattress was only an inch and a half of foam on cement. Apparently foam loses its cushioning ability when it is saturated. Who knew? 

At any rate, there I was, and there I stayed until morning. It took the whole rest of the day for the shriveled, macerated look to go out of my hands, probably because it continued to rain more or less constantly until about lunch, and the last rainstorm wasn’t until after 5:00. By then, however, we had received a tent and were figuring out how to set it up. Better late than never, right?

Was it worth it? 

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