So cyclone Bejisa has been and gone. I've been in big storms before, giant electrical storms in Africa, the monsoon in SE Asia but I think that this was my first experience within cyclone.
Euronews report on the cyclone
Euronews report on the cyclone
It first rain and light winds arrived on Thursday morning (the 2nd of January), building up through out the day to the afternoon until we had high winds and very heavy rain. The power went early in the day as expected, like I guess most people here we have "cyclone stores", torches (with plenty of batteries), candles, fresh water, etc. so I wasn't worried by that.
The view from our veranda, facing the direction of the cyclone, early on Thursday afternoon
The view from our bedroom window in the lee of the storm, again early on Thursday afternoon
By late afternoon though all was calm and quiet and just a little bit eerie, it really was the eye of the storm! Soon enough, just about dusk, the storm picked up again, building up through the night to what seemed to me a good bit stronger than during the day. The house that we live in has thick wooden shutters for all of the windows and doors and as I sat in our fortified house with the two cats, reading in the dark with my headlamp, I could hear the occasional crash or thud as something carried by the wind hit the house, exciting times!
By morning there was still waves of heavy rain and high winds but the worst had passed and it slackened as the morning went on.
We got off lightly without much damage to the garden and none to the house. Some of our neighbors lost numerous big boughs of their trees, in our case it was a fair few litchi branches along with most of the rest of the litchis (which will be a bit of an issue as there is a sea of them in the garden mixed in with leaves and they will stink and attract mosquitoes as they rot!), most of the avocados and a big bunch of coconuts that were all blown down. So Friday morning, in between showers, I got to work clearing up the debris, which I've spent a fair bit of the last two days doing, not finished yet mind you.
Power came back on last night and we still have no running water (and when it does come back we''ll have to rely on bottled water for a while as the public supply usually gets contaminated after heavy rains) but I'm sure that'll be back fairly soon (a shower would be nice since I've been working in the garden with 30c heat and very high humidity, it's a good thing that Aurelie and the kids are in France!).
I did learn a few lessons for our next cyclone:
If Aurelie and the kids are here we will need more lights. By myself I only used my trusty headlamp (I did light some candles in the living room but after a while realised that I wasn't using them so I blew them out) but if the kids are here we will need more lanterns for them (currently we only have one).
Get the gas bottle for our cooking hobs replaced, we are only on our second gas bottle in two years so it must be nearing empty, it didn't run out but if it had I wouldn't have been able to cook and that would have made me sad!
Get some way of charging electronics without mains power. With the power out I had no land line and the iphone isn't noted for it's battery longevity (plus virtually all my books here are on my ipad). I'm thinking a Power Pot X http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/david-toledo/the-powerpot-x-most-reliable-10-watt-portable-gene
All in all not a bad first cyclone and I did quite enjoy it. It's not something to take lightly though and not everyone was so lucky, fifteen people were injured and one or two killed on the Island. I was lucky enough to have everything (mostly) prepared and be in a (mostly) well constructed, safe, house.