Former actress turned Tacloban City Councilor Christina Gonzales-Romualdez thought it was the end of the world.
A storm surge churned up by Super Typhoon Yolanda swamped their two-storey house, leaving her and her two daughters fighting for their lives.
Gonzales-Romualdez, the wife of Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, said the storm surge decimated all houses, including those made of concrete.
“We were all prepared three days ahead of its landfall, with early evacuation, pre-positioning of relief goods, but nobody could have prepared for this magnitude of disaster. It wasn’t a storm surge, really. It was a tsunami because the sea water extended to two to three kilometers from the sea, reaching the second floor of houses. I, my children and our helpers climbed to the second floor and clung to whatever we can hold on to, whatever was left of the ceiling. Aside from the storm surge, the winds were so strong, like it was very angry,” she said.
The Romualdez couple have two daughters aged 14 and 10. When Yolanda slammed into the city, her husband was trapped somewhere else in the city.
Their residence was destroyed by the typhoon.
Mrs. Romualdez said they were almost pinned down by cars.
“The cars almost got to us and buried us. We had to push them away very hard. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I thought, is this a movie? My children were saying ‘Mommy, I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.’ I just kept telling them, no we’re not gonna die. Just pray.”
“The water was rushing to us, and you should take note we [in Leyte]are facing the Pacific Ocean. It took around two hours before the water receded,” she added.
Local government officials, Mrs. Romualdez said, are also scrambling to keep their families safe. Of the seven councilors of Tacloban City, only two are accounted for.