National Geographic : 1955 Feb
282 1. S, Air ''rct Of'icial Okinawan Workers Cut Grass by Hand Beside a B-29 Thousands of islanders take jobs with the American military command. Others serve in homes, clubs, barracks, and mess halls. A GI maintenance crew works on the disassembled tail section of plane at right. across the valley. Three Quonsets had stood directly opposite our place. One of these was now a mere tunnel, and the other two had been blown right off the map. Another building on our grounds, a small darkroom and photo laboratory, was also gone. It had contained a sink and plumbing. Even the plumbing was gone. Bailing Out the Living Room We fought the storm in every way we could. We tried to stuff chair cushions into windows that were blowing out and bailed furiously to keep the water level down. We were con stantly cleaning up glass and broken dishes from cupboards that were being tossed over. We kept the older children in the mattress shelter and never put the new baby down for a minute. Finally, as gusts hit 175 miles an hour by midafternoon, the living-room and dining room roof and the front porch blew off, all in one piece, with a deafening crash. All I remember of that split second of thunderous ripping was the maid screaming, even above the noise, "Where's Pieter?" We never wondered where we stood with our domestic help after that. By evening, as the barometer began to rise, an Army bus came to evacuate families from our area. We were going to typhoon- resistant barracks on the other side of the island. Soldiers gave up their beds to the children. I put the baby down, trying to think what we had named her. I was so tired from fighting the storm that I never did recall her name that night. In the morning we waited in the barracks while the men went to see who had a home and who didn't. Ninety-two homes in our area had been blown away, and a 6-year-old child had been killed. Though our house was not as badly battered as many, it was a discouraging mess. We were to be without electricity for the next six weeks and without water for four days. Our maids started wringing out the grass rugs as if nothing had happened. "Gloria" Cost a Pretty Penny We were classed as disaster victims and, as such, received a dozen free rolls from the Chinese restaurant. Feeling sorry for myself, I sat on our front steps, munching a roll. Okinawa seemed a hopeless place in which to try to live, and I dreamed of returning to that big piece of land across the Pacific-U.S.A. shima. Suddenly our whole personal plight seemed ridiculous. As a final touch, the Ameri can Red Cross thoughtfully sent us each a new toothbrush.