MANILA --"Everyone thought the end had indeed come."
This is how the survivors of Ormoc City described the fury of super typhoon "Yolanda" to Leyte Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez.
In her column on the Philippine Star published Sunday, the wife of actor Richard Gomez said residents of Ormoc even heard the frightening winds of Yolanda, which resembled the sound of a wailing woman.
"Because [on November 8] at around 8 a.m., the howling of the wind heightened to a very frightening level. They say it sounded like a woman wailing, and if I were to pick a singular image of its fury, based on accounts it would be that of a dentist trying to pull out a very stubborn tooth. In this case, the dentist was the wind and the tooth, each and every house," she wrote in her column entitled "One day of Yolanda."
"If in Tacloban City it was the storm surge that wreaked havoc, here in Ormoc it was the angry wind that seemed to move in a singular path, like a comet, before it changed its furious dance into a twisting motion. It is safe to say that the most damage happened between 8 and 10 a.m., with only 15 minutes of calm that everybody says, in hindsight, just feels like a betrayal because it actually came in two waves, the last being the most destructive," she added.
Yolanda, believed to be the most powerful typhoon to make a landfall in recorded history, did not spare the house of Torres-Gomez’s family.
Torres-Gomez recalled in the column how her brother, Jules, who was in their parents' house with wife Rica and their 11-month-old baby , ran from one room to another, trying to escape from the destruction of Yolanda.
She went on to share that her sister, Caren, who was in another house with husband Vince Rama, was repeatedly reciting verses from the Bible while trying to keep their three-year-old son calm and safe.
"My sister prayed Psalm 91 over and over again as she breastfed her three-year old son to keep him calm while all the helpers, crying silent tears of fear, used their body weight to push the door closed because the wind wanted very much to open it," she recalled.
Torres-Gomez likened Yolanda to the children's story character, the Big Bad Wolf, who blew away rooftops, shattering glass windows and doors of houses in her hometown.
"We are all familiar with the Big Bad Wolf’s threat in that all-time favorite childhood story. The imagery is amusing, cute even, and has been told and retold to the delight of children for many years now. But the people of Leyte now know there is nothing happy about it when it happens in real life," she said.
Torres-Gomez, who represents the province's 4th district, said that while the people of Ormoc City were bracing for what was warned to be a terrible storm, they were not highly fearful about it, as the city already experienced powerful typhoons before, such as "Uring" in 1991, which left about 8,000 people dead.
When Torres-Gomez returned to Ormoc to check on her hometown, it was the scene of massive destruction left by the super typhoon that shocked her.
"Buildings and homes now are but skeletons and shadows of what they once were. The main source of livelihood is agriculture, or should I say, was agriculture. There is almost none of that to speak of, no harvest to look forward to," she said.
Despite the devastation left by Yolanda, Torres-Gomez is optimistic that her kababayans in Leyte will soon rise again and move on from the tragedy.
"I go around and I see destruction alongside the glazed and dazed looks in the eyes of even the bravest men I know. But I also see smiles, and thumbs-up signs," she wrote. "Once again, it is the brave, resilient, trusting and happy heart of the Filipino that shines through for the world to see."