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UI/UX DESIGN September 18, 2023

User Experience Design in the midst, and aftermath of a category 5 typhoon

In the midst of a storm, beautiful pixels we're created

It was 7PM Thursday night when I promised that I will finish, and deliver all of my designs by Sunday. An hour before a category 5 typhoon will land in my city. Plunge 7 regions into total darkness, cut off all water supply, and turn everyones life upside down.

For context, hurricane Katrina that devastated the United States in 2005 was 280 km/h. hurricane Rai 259 km/h.

Not knowing what is about to happen

For the past 2–3 weeks, I’ve been staying inside my place, only going out for groceries, and not really minding the outside world. This is because I’ve been learning React and NextJS, so I was a bit preoccupied with the whole process. I also deleted all of my social media so I haven’t been reading a lot of news lately. I know, I know, I shouldn’t get my news from Social Media, anyway. That means, I had no idea whatsoever that there is a typhoon coming until 15 minutes before it peeked its head right around the corner.

At first, it was just a light drizzle, with some wind, and a soft howling outside the apartment. Mind you, we’ve had some storms over the years, but it’s always just some rough pours, a flooded street here and there, and a light interruption to my fiber internet, maybe the electricity gets cut off for a couple of hours but thats it.

Not this one.

Imagine leaves hurtling like bullets.

After 10minutes when the first droplet fell, it started raining. Hard. Really hard. Rain became heavy and thick, and the wind is now picking up leaves and trash from all over the place.

At first it didn’t really bother me, but then the banging started. The scratching sound of galvanized steal folding unto itself. Small branches getting ripped apart and hitting glass windows, and the howling sound of the wind is a nightmare in of itself.

And just like that, total darkness. Electricity just turned off, and the emergency lights only last a couple of hours. I’ve also been planning on buying a power station for the better part of 2 months but I keep on pushing it off so now I feel more like an idiot than ever, and also scared shitless that my roof is gonna get blown away. So, double whammy.

Video of Typhoon Rai (Odette)

Now the storm has finally reached its peak, wind is banging at my front door like an old jilted lover wanting to get in. Rain water still finding ways to get inside from closed windows, and me and my girlfriend running around the house pushing water out back from door gaps, and into the watery chasms from whence it came. 🧙💍💦. It was total chaos.

And a very stupid decision.

This thing could have decapitated me

While I was watching the train wreck that is happening outside my house. A piece of corrugated roof flew right in front of the window that I was peaking out of, and landed near a post beside my car. It got lodged between a small pipe and the cement post, and every second the piece gets tossed around by the wind, it inches closer to my car. Me being the idiot that I am, contemplated to move the car to make sure that it doesn’t get damaged from the flatten piece of metal when it eventually fly’s away.

Visibility was something like this when I got in the car.

Unfortunately, cooler heads didn’t prevail that night, and I risked life and limb to move the car. As soon as I opened the door, the storm pushed me back to my knees due to the strength of the wind, and drenched me in less than a second. I ran to the drivers seat, started the car, and realized that the windshield had 0 visibility because of hard the rain was. Good thing I can still see some parts of the street with the backup camera.

After I moved the car a couple of meters away from the lodged piece of metal. I turned it off, and ran back to the house. Everything around me was pitch black, and the wind was so strong that I was being pushed back to car, and leaves and small twigs we’re hitting me in my face and arms. While this was happening, all I could think was how stupid I am for even doing this, and if I ever die or get decapitated. I totally deserved it. Fortunately, I got off unscratched. PSA: PLEASE DON’T EVER GET OUT OF THE HOUSE WHEN THERE IS A STORM. IT IS VERY UNSAFE, AND I ONLY I SURVIVED DUE TO DUMB LUCK.

After I got back inside the house, I dried myself off and parts of my life flashed before me.

I need to start working

After that stupid stunt, I realized that I still have 20 designs to finish in 4 days, and I’m still at page 0, 97% battery on my M1 Macbook Pro, and 50% on my phone for data. So I put on my big boi pants, pushed away all the scary thoughts, and got to working. I thought about asking for an extension, and I’m sure my client will understand due to the circumstances, but I already said that I won’t let him down, and whenever I say those words, I always come through. That’s PeterGarciaGuarantee™.

After a couple of hours working in the dark, and getting by with barely working internet. I was able to finish a couple of designs, and told myself that I already had good progress with the project.

Dashboard design for www.daoofdiamonds.com

After some time that felt like forever (probably two hours max), everything subsided, and I finally became so exhausted that I crashed in the dark.

When morning came, reality hit, and I realized that going through the storm is the easy part in all of this.

The aftermath

Here are some photos of the devastation that happened all through out the city:

A marketplace for small businesses is blown over by the storm, leaving debris all around the place. This place used to have 40+ businesses and thousands of visitors every weekend

A marketplace in a business area gets blown away

A picture of a car that is pinned down by a fallen tree

A car is flattened by a fallen tree

A picture of a busines establishment with broken glass and debris lying around everywhere

Majority of the businesses in the city are affected by the storm pausing operations

Because of the category 5 typhoon. 95% of all power lines in the city are cut off so majority of the populace doesn’t have electricity until now. Some reports say that electricity will be back in a month.

A picture of tangled power lines cut off because of fallen electrical poles

Power lines are cut off due to strong winds.

Water was also cut off, and people are now waiting outside of their homes for water trucks to deliver drinking water to every household. I also heard that in some cases, people are waiting from night to dawn for the water trucks to arrive.

People are waiting beside the road to wait for water trucks to deliver water because water lines are disconnected.

People are also lining up in gas stations, and lines usually reach around a mile or more. Sometimes you will have to wait for 3 hours just to get a fill. There is also a problem of individuals hoarding gas, and bringing large containers. I honestly think that this is very selfish, and those individuals should think of other people and not just themselves. Especially now.

This line reached for more than a mile clogging up traffic.

Streets are also impassable because of tree debris or power lines falling down.

All streets have fallen trees and some of them have are impassable until government services can get rid of the big parts of the blockage.

People are also panic buying in department stores, and food stocks are running out. Drinking water has also reached crazy expensive prices: From 15pesos(0.30USD) per bottle to 250 (5 dollars ) in some areas. ATM’s have also ran out of cash, and most of the working class here in the city don’t have access to debit or credit cards. Even if they did, majority of the terminals are not working because communication lines are also affected.

Other people are also sleeping outside their destroyed homes in tents, but the silver lining is that it has already stopped raining here, so they won’t get wet.

When I realized that it’s going to take some time for electricity to come back, I opted to give away all the frozen meat that I had for other people to cook instead of letting it go to waste. I also gave away all of the stocked canned goods that I had since I can just get food from the hotel.

I tend to stock up on food since I like to cook, but other people need this more, and if I don’t let this go, it will just go to waste.

Finishing the designs.

The day after typhoon hit the city. All major roads had damages to them, and basic amenities have already stopped working. I wanted to stay in my house since there was no major damage to it, but my girlfriend booked a hotel room for us to stay in for the mean time.

We were lucky enough to get the last room, and I am still thankful that we decided to get one instead of staying in the house without electricity and water. I also needed to charge my devices so that was very lucky.

I’m still thankful for my girlfriend for forcing me to get a hotel room. That woman is a godsend tbh.

After I was finally able to settle in, find a place to work, and have decent accommodation, as well as get things in order on my side. I was able to finish all the designs that I needed to do, and considering the circumstances, I am very happy and proud with how this project turned out. I created a design that my client specifically wanted, and knocked it out of the park.

I also provided notes for the Developer what needs to happen for Desktop and Mobile views. Since I do Front-end Development as well, I already know how I would code this UI. I just need to relay that to the other developer.

I am also very happy with these two tone icons that I created for the user interface.

With all of this, I feel very lucky because we were able to book a hotel room with electricity, wifi, and clean running water. I have funds to stay here until everything comes back to normal, orrrr until my funds run out. And I wasn’t financially ruined because of none of my properties were damaged.

But I am the exception not the rule. For every lucky person like me that is out there, there are thousands of other people that are struggling to get by because of the typhoon.

Written by: Peter Garcia

Peter Garcia is the founder of Plats Studio. A veteran UI/UX Designer that has worked on countless ecommerce products and businesses in the span of more than 10 years.