‘Hello Kebba’. ‘Yes Alisha?’ I answered to the telephone call of a course-mate in Kaohsiung Medical University and then asked her of what service could I be to her. She said: ‘I was told that a typhoon is coming’. ‘Who is typhoon?’ I asked. She responded by correcting me, saying: ‘what is typhoon?’ This was on Sunday, 29th of September 2008 shortly before noon. About an hour or so after finishing talking with Alisha I got a call from a friend-Aminata-in Yang-Ming University, Taipei. She told me how they were told that a typhoon was coming so were advised not go out. She went further to explain to me how devastating a typhoon could be and the one being expected could very destructive.

So I wondered; Typhoon could be dangerous, it could destroy buildings, it could kill. It then it dawned on me how serious a situation we would be facing. And I then remembered being taught something about typhoons long time ago at senior secondary school. During those days it did not mean much to me beyond it being a tropical cyclone which originates in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. But on the 29th of September, the thought of it filled me with trepidation and foreboding as I recalled what a similar cyclone, Hurricane Katrina, did when it hit New Orleans in USA, 3 years ago. New Orleans, is in the mainland USA and here I was in Taiwan; an island and moreover in Kaohsiung city; a city facing Northwest Pacific Ocean. So I braced myself for the worst.

As the day went on, we started feeling the presence of air around us as the wind gradually picked up speed. I came from The Gambia in West Africa with a subtropical type of climate. We do have very strong winds during the rainy season which is locally called ‘the Storm’. It would sometimes be very ‘strong’ and would cause destruction of properties occasionally. I am at home with that type of strong wind. But the type that slowly picked up in Kaohsiung city on the 29th of September 2008 and became the strongest wind I had ever experienced and then followed by a torrential rain which was not just a downpour but was actually bucketing down, I could only imagine a complete destruction of a country had it had happened in The Gambia.

Shortly after midday, we-I was with two other Gambians: Sheikh and Musa- were advised to go out and buy some provisions, for the shops do close during serious typhoons. So we ventured out. And it was an experience. The wind that hit us was like a thunderbolt; it would have blown us down were it not for positions we took to give us more support on the ground. When we got to the streets that are usually teeming with people; they were eerily empty but for few people and cars on the road. We could have crossed the road with the traffic light red. Then all of a sudden, it started drizzling and alas we put up our umbrellas. When the wind came again it turned Sheikh’s umbrella ‘inside out’. I had to let go off mine to prevent it from being destroyed.

Almost all the shops were closed. We were lucky to find Carrefour, a major shopping centre, at our area open, but for just as it was about to close. We bought the provisions and rushed back to the university campus but had to ‘battle’ with the wind and the rain before we got to our dormitories.

As I got into my room to my surprise, I got a call from my brother in The Gambia asking whether we have been evacuated as they were getting reports on CNN how serious the typhoon was in here and how people were being evacuated to safety as the rain had caused flooding and destruction in certain areas in Taiwan. I told him I was safe and may be that was another part of Taiwan as in Kaohsiung the situation was not that bad yet.

As the night went on the rain continued to bucket down more and more; this together with the blasting and the ‘weeeeing’ sound of the wind on my window kept me awake all night long. I prayed to God as we usually do back home when we feel the wrath of nature is upon us to keep us safe through the night to see the sun the next day in peace and in one piece.

By the morning next day, the wind had gone and the rain has reduced remarkably. However there was no school. But what was most remarkable was the fact that we were all safe; and by God I would live to experience another typhoon more experienced and more prepared.