The story of five teens, a mission trip, an island.... and a disaster.
|Sarah woke up in the morning shivering with cold... and she was wet. She gasped and sat straight up in her sleeping bag. Her fingers touched frigid water, trickling across the floor. "Everyone, wake up!" She shouted at the top of her lungs.
Half the building seemed to jump, startled. "Whoa, what's wrong?" Natalie wondered sleepily... until she felt the icy flow of floodwater herself.
"The water rose to the top of the hill," Sarah muttered, throwing her sleeping bag off. She raced over to Mrs. Winch. Her feet splashed gently in the shallow water. "What are we going to do? Everything's wet!"
"We'll figure this out," Mrs. Winch sighed, frustrated. She raked her hand through her sopping wet hair. "This isn't a hurricane, it's a tsunami in the middle of a heavy rainstorm! Everyone, come and help me!"
Oliver was startled awake by continuous shouting and commotion. It took him a moment to realize where he was, and that Parker and Brodie were right beside him. In fact, Parker's head was resting on his shoulder, pleasantly snoozing. He must've been really tired to sleep through that noise.
"Crikey!" Parker yelped, leaping out of his slumber. "What happened? Where's the fire?"
"Not a fire," Oliver puffed. He reached over and jostled Brodie out of his sleep.
"Stop yelling," Brodie grumbled. His eyes fluttered open, then widened. He sat straight up. "Wait, why's everyone running?"
"Let's find out." Parker leaped off the floor and ran over to Charlie, whom he'd spotted directing frantic people toward a stairwell on the right side of the wall. "What's going on?" He demanded.
Charlie kept waving his hands. "Floodwater rose overnight," He puffed. "Gotta move everyone upsta-"
"Park, look at this," Brodie whispered. It was enough to catch Parker's attention.
He brushed past Charlie and jogged over to the huge window that Brodie and Oliver were standing in front of, their eyes wide with shock.
Water was rushing and pulsing at their feet... but it couldn't reach them through the glass. Parker, dazed in awe, slowed to a stop just close enough to place his hand to the window. It was cold to touch. Goosebumps ran down his arm, and he shivered.
How many people had gotten stuck out there? Possibly drowned?
The city was the lowest spot in the tsunami area, which meant it was the most flooded.
And now they were smack in the middle it all.
"Upstairs, everybody upstairs!" Charlie bellowed.
Suddenly Parker was being dragged along by some person he didn't even recognize. Or maybe he did, and he was just too fazed to notice.... but the icy chill remained on the tips of his fingers.
Parker sat leaning against the window on the third floor, his forehead pressed against the cold glass.
Oliver couldn't help but watch him as he stared gloomily at the flood outside. Finally he wandered over and dropped down next to him. "You okay?" He asked quietly.
Parker glanced at his friend with some sort of veiled remorse. "Yeah, I'm okay," He sighed, lowering his eyes to the floor. There was a long moment of silence before he could bring himself to say more. "I was just thinking about my mum and dad back home. They've probably already seen the news about the flood."
Oliver nodded solemnly. "I was just talking to Bert," He said, a hopeful lilt in his voice. "He told me that the airport is going to try and get helicopters down here, now that the rain is over. Anyone who's managed to find shelter is supposed to get as high up as they can. Sort of an evacuation."
"How can the airport do that?"
"They're the third highest spot on this island," Brodie replied before Oliver could say a word. "The floodwaters didn't even touch them."
Oliver smiled at his friends. "Another thing to thank God fo-"
"Wait, everyone back at the warehouse can't get message from the airport," Parker jumped up. He sprinted over to Charlie. Brodie and Oliver followed after exchanging curious glances and shrugs. "We promised to call them anyway."
Sarah's feet were frozen, but other than that, everything seemed okay. The water stayed where it was, not rising an inch further. They'd been frantic to stack everything on top of the tables, which was food, their sleeping bags, and basically everything they'd need that they water could destroy.
Then they would sit on top of crates or barrels, trying their best to keep their feet warm. Places to sleep wasn't a problem... their were plenty of massive shelves that could serve as bunk beds, as long as they were able to climb up into them. Plus there was plenty of plywood that they could stack high enough to escape the floodwater, then plop a sleeping bag and pillow on top of. It wouldn't be all that comfortable, but it was something.
Natalie was trying to calm a little girl named Althea Mae when the phone rang loudly again. This time is wasn't as startling. "I'll get it," She volunteered, since she was closest to the phone lying on the table.
Judd hopped over and took her place with the girl in his lap.
Natalie snatched the phone from the table and glanced at the screen before pressing it to her ear. It said "Charlie." That would be the same phone that Brodie had used the day before! "Brodie!" She cried into the phone. "Is everything okay with you guys? The flood rose overnight!"
"I know." It wasn't Brodie's voice. It was Parker's. "We're all okay. We called to tell you that the airport is planning to fly choppers down around the city and all towns surrounding it. If you guys want to get rescued, you've got to be on the roof by the time they come."
"We've got at least 150 people here!" Natalie gaped. "How can they get enough helicopters for that?"
"It's going to take all day to get everybody," Parker sighed. "You'll just have to wait if you're not on the first chopper. Or the second. You get the picture."
Natalie nodded, her heart trilling with worry. "Alright. Okay, I'll tell Mrs. Winch."
"You take care of yourself," Brodie's voice called from the background.
Natalie laughed in a shaky tone. "I will," She promised, then hung up with a long breath of relief.
Everything would be okay.
"So what now?" Brodie murmured as Parker gave the phone back to Charlie. "Are we all moving to the roof, or....?" His left shoulder hitched up in a half-shrug.
"I don't know," Charlie sighed. He stuffed the phone into his large jacket pocket and pulled his cap lower. "It's still pretty wet up there from the rain, and we have no idea how long it'll be 'til a chopper actually comes along that's meant for us."
"Probably best to keep some people out there and let the pilots know we've got everyone here," Oliver nodded. "And then just grab whoever's next in line to go up whenever their turn comes?"
Charlie's eyes narrowed at him, but not in a suspicious way. More... curious. "You guessed my thoughts exactly," He muttered. He gestured at the three of them, an eyebrow cocked. "You know, I'm still curious about you. What were you doing out in the middle of the storm? Obviously you're smart, but you've have to be stupid to -"
"We were going to grab the poor bloke's that weren't able to get to the warehouse," Parker told him with a wink. "Unfortunately, we only got four of them, and they weren't even the one's we were after."
The talked for a while longer, but it became obvious that Charlie had scouting business to attend to. In the meanwhile, everyone was able to realize that they were starving... and without food. It didn't matter too much, though, knowing that help was on the way.
They'd be out of that mess in no time.
"I need a count of hands!" Mrs. Winch declared. "Youth members!"
All youth members raised their hands high to be seen. For a moment, Mrs. Winch was pointing at each of them and counting them off in her head. "Eighty-seven," She murmured when she got to the last one. "Alright, uh....Mangyaring taasan ang iyong mga kamay sa gayon maaari kong mabibilang!"
The Filipinos glanced around at each other, momentarily confused, but raised their hands obediently.
"Okay, we've got 149 of us here," Mrs. Winch announced. "And only four can fit in each helicopter, not including the pilot. From what I can tell, the airport's sending out as many helicopters as they can, but it's still going to take all day and possibly into the night to get everybody."
"Should we moved to the roof?" Sarah wondered aloud.
Mrs. Winch bit her lower lip. "I guess so," She replied. "But that means we can only take whatever is most important with us, so make sure you have your cell phones or anything else equally or more important. Pillows and sleeping bags will have to stay here, along with the food."
The warehouse burst into conversation as people began scurrying this way and that, trying to get their things together and deciding which was most important to salvage. Some youth members helped children and elders to climb the stairs to the roof, while others worked on getting everyone together.
Mrs. Winch turned to collect her own things. "It's going to be a long day," She sighed.
The sound of the helicopters reached their ears at around six a.m. The blades loudly chopping the air came from everywhere, like an army of giant bumble bees.
"I think I might go deaf," Oliver muttered in a higher tone than normal. His hands were clapped over his ears in attempt to block out the deafening noise.
Parker stared at him, his face blank. "You think?" He said sarcastically.
Nobody saw Oliver's eye-roll as Charlie took his place on top of three folded up roll-away beds with the megaphone and announced the procedure. "There are two helicopters destined for our building," His voice boomed against the walls. "Which means eight of us going at a time. I suggest you all line up."
Someone else took the megaphone and translated the message in Filipino, and shortly after, two loud thumps interrupted the drumming of the choppers. "Our helicopters," Brodie grinned. "Come on!"
The three were in line faster than they could blink. At least ten others were in front of them.
"Let's hope this goes fast," Parker muttered, bouncing on the tips of his toes. His heart trilled at the thought of going home, away from the floodwaters, away from the disaster.
Oliver grinned at him. "Ah, it's that Aussie impatience that has run in the Maddson family for several generations," He teased.
"You're gonna regret that, mate," Parker sighed dramatically. " They'll think, hey, this guy doesn't seem to mind letting the more eager blokes go ahead of him. I guess we'll put him farther down the line."
"Well, I don't blame you this time," Oliver mumbled.
Frowning, Parker glanced back at his friend... and realized that he, too, was fidgeting.