My journal entries during Cyclone Domoina January 29-31, 1994. We did not get any warning about this storm. I refer to the storm as a typhoon, but the correct term in this region is cyclone. I was determined to get my overdue electric bill paid at Siteki so my electricity would be restored. Without any warning this was a cyclone, I set off to Siteki to pay it as the eye moved over Swaziland. While I did successfully pay the bill in Siteki, the return home could have been disastrous if not for some lucky breaks. My electricity was reconnected about two days later.
Romona is the volunteer I replaced at Mkapa. Ian is a Canadian teaching auto mechanics at the vocational technical school at Mpaka.
29 January 1984
We are having an amazing rainstorm. For the about the past 12 hours it has rained. My house seems to be pretty much encircled with water, just like a mote around a castle. The wind whips the rain against everything also. But there is no thunder or lightning, just rain and wind. 9:33
The rain continues. We seemed to have a small 2 hour break between 11:00 and 1:00. The sky became much lighter; I almost thought the sun would come out, but now we are back to heavy downpours. I think in parts of Swaziland flooding is soon going to be a problem. 3:47
It has stopped raining again. Oh, just as I write this sentence I hear rain on the roof again. I was out walking in the very worst of it before. It even rose up over my sidewalk in front of my house which as at least 150 mm. In many places as I walked the water was ankle deep or more. My guess is that the rain is coming from a storm out in the Indian Ocean. Tomorrow I must see about getting my electricity back. 6:49
30 January 1984
It is still raining, maybe even harder then before. I don’t know if I will make it to Siteki today to see about my power being reconnected. 7:22
I just made it back in time: the sky has let loose again with another tremendous downpour. We had about a 6 hour break from the storm; the sun was even shining the temperature rose to 33. During that time I went up to Siteki. My suspicions about this being a typhoon have been confirmed. It came in from the Indian Ocean and just about wiped out Maputo. We have had about 250-300 mm of rain already. The period of calm today was the eye of the storm. It passed about 100 km to the north of Swaziland, actually, less than that. It passed through Kruger Park in SA. Now comes the backside of the storm. The wind has shifted from the South to the North. We are getting lightning with this part now. All I can say is batten down the hatches and hang on for another 30 hours. 7:11
I just watched an amazing electrical storm go through here; I am not sure if it’s finished either. I could have been out in that. [Side note: during this lightning storm Matt ran by on the way to his house. He ran the 1 km from the bus to his house dodging lightning bolts.]
Events that happened two months ago are effecting my life today because when Romona left, the electric bill wasn’t properly handled. I went out today to pay it. There just happened to be a typhoon passing through. The road washed out, but it was only a temporary road built to bypass the bridge over the railway while they expanded the lines. The road would not have washed out otherwise. All of these events, seemingly independent, combined causing me to sit by the road waiting for a bus to Siteki. I was going to take the bus back from Siteki but no more were leaving. It was now 5:45 pm. Alright, fine I thought, I’ll walk back. It is only 23 K and I could have been home by 10:00 pm. Luckily for me someone was going to Mbabane and picked me up. We got to the washed out road just as the grader was finishing leveling fill for the road. After stopping by Ian’s for a cup of tea, I left and made it to my house just before all hell broke loose from the sky.
Now when I was in Siteki I was determined to make it home even if I had to walk. But there is no way I would have ever walked through that storm. I’m not sure what made me get lucky to get back home safely. Maybe that Babe who stopped me in Siteki had some effect. He kept asking about what he could do to help me. He wanted to give me money or buy me a meal. Finally he said he would pray for me. The moral of all this is to pay the electric bill on time.
This is the second time that I have gone up to Siteki while strange things were happening. Last time it was the “election.” There is still lightning in the distance but not much rain. I make no prediction for the rest of the night. The sad part is they will probably forget to reconnect my electricity in the end because it will get lost in shuffle of all the other repairs that are needed. 8:14.
31 January 1984
Our typhoon seems to be over. We got 14-16 inches of rain! It is quite unbelievable. Many bridges in Swaziland are gone. It will be awhile before things return to normal.
The first day of school was very slow. We, Matt and I, were working on the timetable. Now I want to sleep. Oh, it was about 5:00 am when I would say the storm ended. It went from Saturday evening to Tuesday morning. 8:38.