NEW YORK — I am accustomed to strong typhoons. Before I immigrated to the United States more than a decade ago, I grew up in my native Sorsogon, a coastal town about 160 miles north of Tacloban City in the Philippines. The houses in our neighborhood were very close to each other, and mostly made of old wooden planks with thatched roofs from dried coconut palm fronds. Others had corrugated metal roofs with old tires on top of them.
For every typhoon that made landfall in my hometown—we would get one or two a year that were strong enough to cause fatalities—my siblings and I would go searching for our missing roof that the wind had torn apart and blown away. My father died when I was nine and my six siblings were still very young, so it was my mother who climbed up and patched our roof, hammering rusty nails to hold it all together.
Our neighbors would do the same. The day after a storm, which is often bright and sunny with a calm and stale breeze, the only sounds I would hear in the neighborhood were the hammering of those rusty nails, and the hissing sound of brooms sweeping the fallen leaves and tree branches on the ground.
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