Thursday, September 2, 2010

Typhoon Kompasu

I woke up to the sound of the wind screaming past my window. I rolled over to check the clock - 6:00 - burrowed my head under my pillow to drown out the wind and rain and tried, unsuccessfully, to go back to sleep.

I checked my email before work and saw a message from the US Embassy with a warning about Typhoon Kompasu, the worst typhoon to hit Seoul in fifteen years. That explains the wind, I thought.

The street outside my apartment was covered in white. At first I thought it might be flowers - in the spring, the cheery blossoms cover the ground like snow - but when I looked closer I realized that it was Styrofoam that had been picked up from a store display and destroyed by the wind. As I walked to school, I noticed the none of the stores were open and the ground was covered in downed branches and leaves. The ginkgo trees by my school had dropped their fruit, which split on the sidewalk. There were also no children. There are always students around the school, even in the summer when there's no class, but today the streets were empty and my school was silent.

I called my co-teacher from my office, hoping that a Category 1 typhoon would be enough to force Korea to close schools. I was forgetting the motto of the Korean educational system: children are never allowed to not be in school. Teachers had normal hours and students had a two hour delay. Class would start at eleven.

I hung up the phone, walked into my classroom and saw a shattered window. Luckily the window shade had kept the worst of the rain out, but there was shattered glass all over the floor and a jagged tear running the length of the now ruined shade. I cleaned up the glass and laughed at the teachers who were trapped on the roof of the other school building by a jammed door. The copy room attendant bored up the window and I taught my classes like normal.

I was lucky. Above-ground subways aren't working and there are massive power outages. The front windshield of my co-teacher's car is smashed and she saw a church with its steeple knocked off on the way to school. A bit of missed sleep and a smashed window isn't too bad for my first typhoon.

No comments:

Post a Comment