Below is the first part of Noah Peden’s Story (Our Founder’s Son). When Typhoon Yolanda struck Tacloban City, he was safe and sound in the United States, but by no means does that mean he was unaffected.
My name is Noah and my father, Troy, stepmother, and four little siblings all live in Tacloban City, Philippines, the hardest hit city by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. This is my story of what happened over the course of one week as I waited to hear word from my entire family during the strongest recorded storm in human history.
As I was heading to class on a Thursday two weeks ago, I checked my email on my phone as I had been doing all day because I knew that some storm might be heading to where my family was living. I saw two emails from my dad, one titled “Here We Go” and another “The Eye of the Storm”. Both emails contained videos of a part of the roof getting torn off and a part of a patio being swept into the wind. In my head I thought, “Well at least they’re safe, and that he has a signal, and that in typical Troy fashion he went outside during the eye of the strongest storm in a century.”
The next morning as I got up I was greeted by texts from friends and family asking if I had heard from my dad and if they were okay. Throughout that whole day I gave the same response: “I haven’t heard anything definitive from them, but I KNOW they’re okay. We just have to wait to hear from them.” Every time I checked the news, all I saw was that all communication had been cut off from Tacloban, and in my head I thought they’re fine. They’re fine, they’re fine, they’re just recovering and can’t get any signal.
Then, on Saturday morning, the first headline I saw was “10,000 dead in Tacloban.” At that point I still knew my family was ok, but I was starting to get a little worried. I stopped responding and left group messages with updates, because all I cared about in the universe was just hearing from my dad.
My mind then evolved into a vicious circle of thoughts over and over again that sometimes made its way into a response to a text or message from friends/family: “I haven’t heard from them, but I know they’re ok, I can’t tell you how I know, I just know. It’s just a matter of waiting to hear from them. Please be patient. No I haven’t heard from them. I’m sorry, I’m just waiting to hear from my dad.”
I started receiving messages from people that were very insensitive such as, “I heard it’s flooding multiple levels…Bodies floating.” What was I supposed to do with that? No I hadn’t heard from anyone by then, but I knew they were going to be okay, because if I thought anything else I was going to go insane.
By Sunday, as I read more news about bodies in the streets and looters and the entire city being destroyed, it reached a breaking point in my head. I started thinking about what I would do if… I can’t even write it, even now.
Anyway, I went on with my day as normally as I could, still holding onto that thought/feeling knowing that my dad, step-mom, Diego, Mariano, Maria, and Julia were safe. Every once in a while, my will power would slip and I’d start to think about what I would do. Disappear? Go to my god-fathers house? Carry on with life normally?
Finally, I went over to a close friend’s house to watch a movie to relax and be with people.
Outwardly, I acted like I was fine, because I knew that was what my dad would’ve wanted me to do: be the silent warrior and re-assure people that they would be fine. About an hour into the movie, my phone rang with a strange number showing up. I picked it up with anticipation but not trying to get my hopes too high.
“Noah. It’s Dad, everyone is okay.”
To read the part two of Noah’s Story, click here.
To Get Involved with our Continued Fundraising Efforts, click here.