Typhoon Soudelor slammed into Taiwan’s northern coast on August 8, making landfall at 5 a.m. with sustained winds of 161 kilometers per hour and gusts reportedly as high as 230 kph.
Schools, workplaces, and transportation networks were all shut down Friday night as the typhoon neared. Six people were killed and dozens injured by the Category 3 (on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) storm, which left a trail of damage across the northern half of the island, including flooding, downed trees, and damaged structures. Up to four million Taipower customers lost power, and hundreds of thousands remained without electricity for up to a week.
The typhoon was also instrumental in ending the standoff at the Ministry of Education (MOE). Student protests over “black box” high-school curriculum changes that would view Taiwan’s history more from the perspective of the island’s relationship to China had rocked the nation. But with the storm bearing down on them, the student demonstrators were forced to abandon their encampments outside the MOE, effectively ending their protest.
On the lighter side, the storm bent two mailboxes on Longjiang Road, causing them to lean over at a funny angle and creating an instant tourist attraction. The mailboxes pulled in so many spectators that Chunghwa Post considered moving them to ease the instant traffic congestion at the site. The postal service reconsidered its decision in the face of widespread criticism and the mailboxes remain bent where they are.