After the Storm

by Connor Zimmerman on March 5, 2020

Creative Non-Fiction

A house destroyed by a storm.
Photo courtesy of

by Samantha Pellman ’20

I stood in front of the mess that lay before my eyes. I closed them hoping that when I opened them again, the nightmare would not be before me. But there was no use. This was my reality, and, even though it seems like forever ago, the stinging pain I felt in that moment still comes to me every once in a while. 

It was October 29, 2012. I peered out the window watching the winds absolutely rock the trees and wires near the street. My heart was beating at a fast pace for quite some time now, I could not get it to go down. In that moment, it seemed like it never would. The people around me reminded me to keep calm, but their words seemed blurred. Calm would be the last thing I felt these next twelve hours. Although it took everything in me to not fight the feeling, I knew it would only consume me. For now, I had to let nature take its course. The night would be over soon, but I knew it was just the beginning of my nightmare. 

Finally, I was able to go “home” and see with my own eyes. I remember being anxious, not knowing what to expect. We pulled up to the house, but the driveway was barely visible. I took a deep breath as I tried to climb over the debris to get to what was the front door. I stood in what was my living room facing the bay and wondering how it could look so peaceful now after how destructive it was the day before. There had been rows of windows along with a glass door that gave a beautiful view of the bay when you sat on the couch. But these windows and doors were completely shattered and broken, allowing the ocean to pour into what used to be our relaxing and cozy living room. The furniture that was in the room was no longer there, it floated out to sea. There were pieces of other people’s homes in ours, everything just flowed into each other, swapping places. My neighbor had our wooden pier in their living room, someone else had a neighbor’s jet ski in theirs. I tried to close my eyes and picture what used to be in the room, but with everything gone, it felt impossible. Even though I spent every passing day inside that room, I could not remember the little details and decorations that used to be there. 

I walked to the room next to the living room, the kitchen. The beautiful yellow cabinets were destroyed, but luckily only the bottom ones. The oven and fridge were a wreck and there were pots and pans all over the muddy floor. The fire place was also a muddy mess, the wood inside it had floated away. My eyes were starting to fill with tears. I rushed to the stairs in a panic trying to get to my room leaving mud stains as I ran. My room needed to be okay. I had never been so thankful to have a room on the second floor. Nothing was ruined. That calmed me down a little but I still felt a pit in my stomach. My room was okay, but it wouldn’t be livable. Not with everything ruined downstairs. I started to cry as I thought about how long I’d have to be away from my home before all the damage was fixed. In only twelve hours, my world felt like it had been turned upside down. 

There are days when little things trigger me and bring me back to that day. When I see a storm forming and the waves picking up, my body tenses automatically. A part of me will also be scared of the damage that can happen, and I will always be brought back to the day I cried in my room looking at the ocean. But I’m not afraid of what will happen, because I know that my family and I will be able to recover from it. The world is beautiful, and I will not let twelve hours change my perception of it.