A member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Guam described a terrifying experience during Typhoon Mawar. Although she and her husband were safe off-island, they were closely monitoring the threatening storm’s approach to Guam, where their three children were hunkered down at home with their grandparents.
They had some sense of security because their home was built to withstand the damaging winds. However, there was an unexpected additional danger.
“Our house structure can stand the super typhoon, but not the flooding. We didn’t expect it would reach our place since, in our neighborhood, our house is the only house that’s elevated.”
The waters not only reached the elevation of their building but flooded the first floor – the location of their children's rooms.
Their neighbor texted the father, alerting them that water was rising fast at their own house. The mother contacted her parents who were staying with the children, but who lived on the second floor of the building. She feared that the children would be trapped below, and so the grandparents immediately gathered them to evacuate the first floor.
The water was now five feet high!
Because the two living areas were separated by different outside entrances, the family exited the first floor together and braved the loud darkness. While the grandfather carried the eight-year-old granddaughter, the others carefully waded through the neck-high water as buffeting winds whipped around their heads.
Finally, the mother received the heartening text that all had made it safely to the second floor. She had already sent messages to her church family and close friends to send help. Her son called 911, but they were unable to send a team until the typhoon winds died down.
The family prayed. They asked the Lord to keep the waters from rising. They prayed for protection. And the Lord was with them, they said.
The waters did not come from below to the second floor. The roof above them kept them secure until help arrived.
“God is indeed very good,” the mother said. “They were sheltered on the second floor.”
As soon as the roads were passable, church members drove to the family's home. One of the neighbors used their boat to reach the family and carry them to dry land.
The children are recovering from the ordeal at a family member’s home with their cousins. The grandparents returned to the home after the flood receded to find that nothing could be saved from the first floor.
Although their material belongings have been lost, the family says they have much to praise God for.
“I praise God for the immediate response of my church family. I praise God that my family was saved. I praise God that I didn’t lose communication signal to my family during the typhoon. Despite this big typhoon, our faith remains strong.”
The parents are still stranded off-island as the Guam airport is closed until repairs can be made after the typhoon. “We thank God for their family’s rescue and pray that they will be reunited soon,” regional church leaders said. “Please pray for them and other families on Guam as they continue to recover from the effects of the typhoon.”
Typhoon Mawar, known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Betty, was the strongest Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclone on record in the month of May. It passed north of Guam as a Category 4 typhoon on May 24, bringing hurricane-force winds and heavy rain. It was the strongest storm to affect the island since 2002.