Blizzards of a Feather...
Feb. '03 and the mt. Pinatubo Eruption
is a story of the snow here in the Washington DC area this past weekend.
This is also a parallel story about the mt. Pinatubo eruption and all the
lahar back in its day.
was in Virginia when mt. Pinatubo erupted back in 1991. I visited the
Philippines in 1992/'93 (X-mas break). Even after about 1-1/2 yrs after the
catastrophe, it still looked like a winterland of snow, yet it was the
Philippines during the winter time....
past weekend in Feb 2003, we had, as it turned out, the 6th worst winter
storm in Washington DC (officially recorded at Reagan National Airport was
16.2 inches). Many places north and south and east and west of the airport
reported anywhere from 16 to 40 inches. 40 inches was recorded in the
foothills west of DC. We in Fredericksburg (my record in my front and
backyard) was averaged at about 16 inches......
heard stories from my relatives when we were home during this X-mas
'92/'93 period that it "snowed" lahar for several days. It also
rained such a dirty rain that it was not funny or fun at all. It was so so
so so heavy and acrid and disgusting and everywhere you went, it was the
same awful stuff. Roofs caved in, it was dark as night at noon time. It
was a veritable hell.....
started to snow on Sunday. It kept on snowing and sleeting that whole day.
By Sunday afternoon, there was a snow drift of about 6 inches pressed upon
or sliding door leading out to our deck. The wind was blowing and if you
ventured out to shovel snow (of course a loosing battle), you would feel
the piercing cold from the wind. By 10 pm sunday night, I used my reel
tape measure and the snow was 11 inches. By 8 am Monday morning, it
measured 16 inches. We had it just a tad easier than other places close to
us. Airports were closed. Roads were closed. The region was
during the mt. Pinatubo disaster was about as bad as it got than any
other time during its previous 500 yrs. That was estimated to be the last
time the volcano had regurgitated lava. Of course, since it was so
long ago since its last eruption, everyone forgot about it (except for the
vulcanologists). The "aetas" forgot about it. Nothing in the
history books that I went through school with ever mentioned a volcano
around our Zambales backyard. All of a sudden, everything went to a
standstill!!! People were dying and those who survived had to face
hardships that, I'm sure, no one would ever wish on their own enemies. It
took months to get Zambales back on track.....
wife Cathy and I looked outside our front yard. We saw one neighbor of
ours, Kristie, shoveling their drive way. Her husband and a friend of
theirs joined her 45 minutes later. Cathy and I had our coffee and hot
cocoa and put all these warm clothes on and back braces (yes it is safer
with back braces!!!) and got our snow and regular shovels and we
likewise faced the gargantuan task of shovelling 16 inches of snow away from
our driveway... and sidewalk. All our neighbors started to come out. Folks
that we haven't seen in weeks, we all started shovelling out from all the
snow. We shovelled, we waved at each other, we shovelled, we shouted
greetings at each other, we shovelled more. We took a break roughly 30
minutes later. Hot cocoa warmed us right up. Ten minutes later, we
shovelled again for another 45 minutes. Body was aching, fingers started
to go weak, thighs weaken, even the "singit" (area between the
legs) started to get tired, weak and fatigued. We took another cocoa
break. We worked another 45 minutes. We broke off for lunch. We then
worked through another hour and 15 to finish it all off.....
people of Zambales had endured hell. But, they have shown to be resilient
enough to go on living. My own parents went through it. My own grandmother
lived through it. The husband of my grandmother's youngest sister Lola
Sion had a heart attack during the height of mt. Pinatubo's wrath and did
not survive. Lola Sion survives still to this day. My own grand mother
died in 1993 at the age of 94 about 4 months after our X-mas visit.
Zambales once again is thriving.... and living.... and going on
bodies still feel the aching. A palpable sensation as an aftermath to our
phrenetic efforts to free ourselves of the snow. We promptly take Tylenol
tablets to help us get by. Our neighbors are surely in no better
condition. As I am writing this, schools are still closed. We all are
thinking about going back to work sometime in the next few days. However,
digging ourselves out was the first step. Resilience is the key. Do what
is necessary. Then do what is next...and the next after that. Before you
know it, it gets easier and a new day comes and all is back to normal. And
like the Zambales people in times of crises, we go on to carry
  
    
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