December 13, 2017 – Beneath smiling faces lie the memories of Irma. Many islanders are shellshocked. The sound of the wind picking up no longer comforts but gives cause for anxiety. Pets are also feeling it.
Vignettes of personal recollection needing to be shared. Someone to listen and validate their sanity. Yes, the water was ten to twenty feet deep in low lying areas. People and pets hunkered down in a bathroom together praying they’d survive.
One of our friends looked us in the eye retelling his story. At first it was so matter-of-fact, then it became difficult to keep it together. The flood waters rose washing away everything on the lower level of his house. Furniture, clothing, electronics were all sucked into oblivion. Scrambling to the second floor there was no safe place to stay. The windows and roof had been blown away. In the end he swam for his very life.
His two dogs were faithful companions he loved and cared for. He always kept them in the house unlike his neighbors. After the storm he never saw them again. Gone. Washed away by the sea. He still feels tormented by the fact that he couldn’t even bury their bodies. The loss has left an imprint on his soul.
The bathroom is where most people ended up. It was the safest choice. A mattress against the door with each person taking their turn to press it against the door. In some case pieces of ceiling dropped down upon them. The pressure from the wind was so strong main support beams cracked, window shattered or blew in. What may have begun as a hurricane party quickly switched to a survival one. Yet they were thankful to be together supporting one another.
Many victims suffer from PTSD. The piercing siren sound the wind made will be a haunting sound they never forget. Needless to say, everyone was exhausted.
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