Hurricane Tiffany

  “And the weather report is predicting a hurricane coming up the East Coast.
Residents of the East Coast please continue to follow the weather and listen to
any updates about this hurricane. This is not something to take lightly. This is
predicted to be one of the biggest hurricanes ever recorded on the East Coast.
Hurricanes don’t normally get this strong and head this far up the East Coast but
this is climate change for you,” the weatherman announced over the radio.
  I snuggled closer to my dog Moby and my little sisters Ava and Ana, on the soft
rug that was laid out on the living room floor. I was scared. I hated storms,
especially big ones. I didn’t want to think about the storm anymore so instead I
gazed into the fire in front of us.
   I’ve always loved to snuggle up in front of the fireplace and watch the fire. I lit it
today using the sticks Ava and Ana had collected from the backyard and logs that
my dad had cut. It was late September and not very cold but you can always have
a fire no matter the temperature.  
   I felt a little hand move on my side, so I looked down at Ava and Ana. They were
four years old and identical twins that had blonde hair and freckles. I have dirty
blonde hair and no freckles. Everyone says I looked like my dad and Ava and Ana
looked like my mom. We lived in a cute house in the middle of a coastal town of
Maine. I went to a public school near my house. I loved it! Everyone was nice
including the teachers. There I was a part of the art and cooking clubs. I loved to
paint and cook! I also volunteered at the animal shelter where we got Moby, every
Sunday. It was really fun to see all the animals and play with them.  
   Moby moved in closer to my left side. I reached out to pet him with my left hand,
but I had again forgotten I don’t have one. I lost my left hand four years ago when I
was ten in a freak shark attack. I had always loved swimming and have grown up
in Maine near the coast, so I had been swimming all my life. I hadn't been
swimming since the accident though, because every time I thought about getting in
the water, all I could remember was the shark and the pain and the blood. There
was so much blood. The blood dyed the sand red and I still remember the sight of
my parents standing over me after they pulled me from the water. My mom was
crying and holding onto me, and my dad was calling an ambulance, but I tried not
to think about it. I donʼt have a prosthetic hand anymore because I donʼt like the
way it feels. I had adapted to life without a left hand, but sometimes I still forget
and try to use it. It doesnʼt really affect my day to day life that much anymore, so I
donʼt normally miss it. I got Moby right after the accident and I feel like that brought
us together, because he helped me get through all my time in the hospital. He was
the cutest thing ever, and I loved him so much. He was small-sized with short
black hair and a long tail, which was always wagging.
   “Olivia, please come in and help me with dinner,” my mom yelled from the
kitchen, startling me.
   “Coming!” I yelled back, struggling to get up from between Moby and the twins.
“Mom, do you think that we will be okay during the storm? Are we going to
evacuate or stay here?” I asked.
   “To be honest honey, I don't know. I need to talk to your dad. It is supposed to
get here on Friday and itʼs only Monday. Anything could happen with the storm
during that time. For all we know it could change direction or shrink. It will be
okay,” my mom comforted. I knew she was trying to reassure me, but I saw the
worry in her eyes.
   “Okay, yeah I bet it will all be okay,” I said for my mom's sake but I looked down
at the black beans I am stirring so she didn’t see the worry in my eyes.
   Dinner was rice, black beans, and strawberries. We all sat in our normal spaces
at the table, mom at the head, dad and Ava on the left, me and Ana on the right,
and Moby under the table hoping someone will drop a bit of food for him.
   Dinner was quiet except for an occasional noise coming from Ava or Ana. I think
my parents were more worried about the storm than my mom let on earlier. I
couldn’t stand the quiet so I asked to be excused and go upstairs.
   I took a warm shower and tried to collect my thoughts.
   After, I went back into my room and checked my phone for texts. I had two texts
from my best friend Ellie.
   “What are you doing?” one read.
   “Have you heard about the storm?” the other read.
   I texted back, “The storm sounds bad. Want to come over?”
   Ellie and I had been best friends since we were babies. She lived right down the
street from me so we practically lived at each other’s houses.
   “Sure! Coming now,” she texted back.
   Three minutes later, I heard a knock on my bedroom door.
   “Come in!” I said.
   It was Ellie, my mom or dad must have let her in. We sat down on the matching
navy blue bean bags in the corner of my room. My parents had gotten them for me
in sixth grade. They had become Ellie’s and my favorite place to sit and talk about
anything: crushes, family, girl stuff, school drama, and now the storm.
   “So I saw on the news that they were calling it the “Storm of the Century” in
Maine because it is supposed to be the biggest storm ever on the East Coast! It
has been named Hurricane Tiffany,” Ellie blurted out, barely stopping to take a
breath.
   “Like, Breakfast at Tiffany’s!” I said, laughing. Breakfast at Tiffany’s was one of
our favorite sleepover movies.
   “It was kind of exciting, but at the same time pretty scary. I knew there have
been a lot of hurricanes in other places this year, but this was the first one that
could damage things and kill people here,” I said.
   “Are you going to evacuate?” Ellie questioned.
“I don’t know. My mom said she still had to talk to my dad. What about you?” I
asked.
   “We are going to evacuate to my brother’s house in Wisconsin and try to
prepare our house to make sure it gets the least amount of damage possible,”
Ellie replies.
   “Oh, cool,” I said. We didn’t know what else to say so we just sat there in
silence.
   We were both worried and so it felt reassuring to just sit there with Ellie, even if
we aren’t talking to each other.
   Ellie went home a little later and I went to sleep soon after that.
***
   It was now Wednesday afternoon and school has already been canceled for
Thursday and Friday. Dad and I were running to the store to get supplies to
prepare for the hurricane. Mom and Dad had decided that we are going to stay
and try to ride out the storm.
   It was crazy to see how barren the store was. It looks like there had been a
reality T.V. show in there, where a bunch of people tried to get as much as they
could in fifteen minutes.
   We had a list of everything we needed: sandbags, plywood, bottled water,
canned food, regular food, radio, batteries, flashlights, and a bunch more stuff that
we might have needed during the hurricane.
   We both grabbed a cart and walked down the empty aisles looking for
everything on our list. We found some canned food so we took basically
everything that was left. We got canned soup, peaches, beans, tuna, and corn.
We also got chips, bananas, peanut butter, and bread. Luckily there was still a
good amount of flashlights and batteries so we got as much as we could. The
store was almost out of water so we grabbed all the water they had.
   “I am going to get the sandbags and plywood, okay?” my dad asked.
   “Sure. I will see if thereʼs anything else we need,” I replied.
   I turned the cart around and started going down random aisles. I found some
duct tape and rope so I put them in the cart. I also found some chocolate bars and
put them in the cart just because chocolate is so good.
   At home we tried to organize everything we got. Mom and Dad were boarding
up the windows. I put the food and water in the pantry and the flashlights and
batteries in an empty cabinet we had in the kitchen. Ava and Ana tried to help me,
but all they did was get in my way.
   Just seeing everything that we got was making me more nervous. What if it
wasn’t enough?
   Ava, Ana and I were in the living room doing a puzzle when my parents came
back in.
   “It's already getting windy outside,” my dad announced, “The plywood is all up.
We put the sandbags around the doors and a few extra around the perimeter of
the house.”
   “Okay, thanks guys,” I said.
I thought Ava and Ana were too little to understand what was happening because
they didn’t even look up from the puzzle or realize that the windows were all
boarded over. It was darker in the room so I turned on another lamp. I thought
Moby could feel the worry in the room though, because he came and sat at my
feet.
   We all stayed inside on Thursday and just played games, like
Clue and Sorry.
Ava and Ana were still oblivious to what was happening, but I could tell my parents
were really worried. The wind was already picking up more and it was raining. I
woke up early that morning and when I walked downstairs, I saw my dad asleep
on the couch with the TV still on the news about the hurricane.
   The closer the hurricane got, the more worried I got. I really don’t want anything
to change. For what felt like the first time in my life, I felt like I was in control of my
life. I had good friends, a good house, a good school, and a good family. I hoped
that the hurricane would come and no one would get hurt, nothing would be
destroyed, and nothing would change so that after it was gone, everything could
go back to normal. After the accident it took weeks in the hospital to recover and
then months to rehab and learn how to do simple tasks with one hand. Like getting
dressed, doing my hair, and picking big objects up. Then it felt like my life was
tipped upside down but then everything was fine or at least it was until I heard this
storm was coming to Maine.
   I fell asleep quickly but woke up early again. I looked out my window This was
the day the hurricane was supposed to come. The clouds were dark like a bad
bruise and the wind ripped around like a lion stuck in a cage. The rain was already
falling at a steady pace. We had already lost power. I went back upstairs to wake
my parents to tell them, but they were already awake and dressed.
   “We already lost power,” I said.
   “I know. We need to keep checking the weather. Right now they are predicting
winds up to 100 miles per hour later tonight and up to one foot of rain and three
feet of storm surge. I didn’t think it would be this bad,” my dad whispered.
   “Can you get dressed and ready and then wake up your sisters and help them
do the same?” my mom asked me.
   “Okay,” I replied, turning the corner to my room.
   I put on a pair of blue jeans and a black t-shirt. When I was ready, I went into
the room Ava and Ana shared.
   “Good morning,” I sang as I tried to turn on the light, forgetting we don’t have
power. I opened the curtains instead which provided us with a little light because
only the first floor windows are boarded up. Out the window I could barely see
past all the rain.
   Ava and Ana sat up in their beds and looked at me sleepily. I got Ava dressed in
some black leggings and a pink shirt, while I got Ana dressed in black leggings
and a blue shirt. Once they were ready, we went downstairs and all sat at the
table.
   “Dad, want help with breakfast?” I asked, getting up from my chair and walking
into the kitchen.
   “Sure, we are just having cereal though to use up the last of the milk so it doesn’
t spoil,” he said.
   I brought in the cereal, milk, bowls, and spoons to the dining room and everyone
sat and ate around the candle-lit table.
   The hurricane had gotten worse since a little while ago. Thunder claps outside
and we could hear the rain pounding against the wood as we ate. Every once in
awhile the wind would shake the house.  
   By noon there was already flooding and trees that had fallen down. I really
hoped our tree doesn’t fall down because if it did, it might fall on our house. The
water was starting to come in the door, so for the moment we resorted to putting
towels there.
   By then Ava and Ana had realized that something was wrong because they had
been really good and had listened to what we said to them. Right then they were
in their room watching the storm from their window.
   “Olivia come down!” my mom screamed from downstairs.
   I looked up startled and ran down the stairs as fast as I possibly could. The floor
was covered in an inch of water! And more was pouring in under the door!
I got more towels, splashing the water everywhere every time one of my feet hit
the ground. My socks were already soaked. I put them down wherever I saw water
but they were not doing anything. My dad was getting Ava and Ana to help him
bring stuff upstairs so that it didn’t get destroyed.
   Then, as a huge gust of wind comes shaking the house we heard a loud crack.
We all knew what it was as soon as we heard it.
   “Get down!” my dad screamed at the top of his lungs.
I grabbed Ana and dragged her under the dining room table where my dad, mom,
and Ava were.
   Then as we heard a final sickening crack, the tree came down on the house.
The sound was horrible and the entire house shuddered as it came in. I could
hearthe house cracking and breaking under the weight of the huge pine tree.
Then another crack as it broke through the ceiling above us. And then darkness.
I woke up to a howling wind whipping my hair around. I sat up and realized that
Iwas laying on top of the table in a foot of water. I was lucky I didn’t drown. I looked
to my left and right and saw the walls of my house, but when I looked up there was
nothing except a few pieces of the upstairs floor still attached to the top of the
walls. The wind and rain still whipped around me and a sudden big splash of
water made me realize, where is everyone else? I looked around and saw no one.
I moved around on the table by paddling with my arms and feet. I looked around in
the water but still I saw no one, not even Moby. I called out the names of my
family, but my screams were drowned out by the howling wind and rain.
   After screaming, I realized I was bleeding. There was a cut on my cheek and on
my shoulder. I quickly took off my socks and put them on my shoulder. My cheek
had mostly stopped bleeding, but there was still a slight pounding in my head. I
realized that I must have been hit in the head which was how I was knocked out.
I got up from the floating table and walked over to the front door and opened it. As
soon as I did, a huge gust of wind blew and pushed me underwater. Outside, the
water was much higher, maybe three feet high. I couldn’t breathe and I hadn’t
been swimming for years since the accident. Then, all I could remember was the
sight of the fin and then the pain.
   Breathe. I told myself, just breathe. So I broke free from the water and took a
huge gulp of air, but soon the wind pushed me under again. This time I fought
back and came up yelling for help. It was very hard to keep my footing in the water
because the currents and the wind were so strong, but somehow I managed to
float over to a part of a tree and hung on for dear life. I yelled out for my family or
for someone to come and help until I lost my voice. My shoulder started to hurt
again from it digging into the tree, but I still held on. I saw I was starting to float in
the current away from my house, but I didn’t try to do anything.  
   After a while, I started to paddle in the opposite direction of the wind so that I
didn’t have to fight the wind. The water was even higher now. I saw some houses,
some whole and some in pieces, but I must have drifted farther than I thought
because I didn’t recognize any of them. Still I paddled, yelling out occasionally for
help.
   The weird thing was that I didn’t see any other people or animals outside.  I
guess a lot of people either evacuated or were dead. Again, I thought about my
family and started to cry. What the heck happened to them?
   As the sky got darker and darker, I could no longer touch the street, so I had to
hang on to the tree. I was really cold, because I was soaked to the bone. I was
also really hungry and tired. My arms ached from paddling, but paddling was my
only hope of finding someone to help me.
   Soon it all became too much, and I lay my head down on the rough tree bark
and fell asleep.
   I woke up to the sound of a motor and immediately jerked up.
   “Help, help, help, please,” I croaked out. “Help!” I yelled again this time it came
out as a yell.
   I heard voices and through the rain, I saw a small boat coming toward me! It
looked like there was one man in the back working the motor and a woman up
front with binoculars. I also saw some figures wrapped in blankets behind the
woman.
   Finally, they reached me and the woman reached out for my hand and pulled
me up onto the floor of the boat which was filled with water.
   “I am Bianca. What is your name?” the woman asked.
   “Olivia. Olivia Smith,” I replied.
   “Here is a blanket,” Bianca said to me “Just sit on the bench and hold on,” she
adds. “Do you know where your family is?”
   “No,” I whispered trying not to cry again.
   She went over to the man in the back and talked to him for a minute. I did what
she said and sat down next to a woman holding a baby in her lap. Across from us
there is an older woman and man holding on to each other’s hands.
   After picking up two more people out of the water, we turned around and head
to the Lobsters’ stadium, which was being used as a shelter for people that were
stuck in the storm.
   I remembered going there once to see one of the Lobsters soccer games with
my mom and dad before the twins were born.
   When we reached it, we were unloaded onto a ramp and the boat sped away,
probably to go pick up more people. We were led up it into the stadium.
   The stadium was filled with cots laid out in all directions. There were people
and pets everywhere. I went over to an empty cot and sat down to think for a
minute.
                                                              ***
   “Olivia what are you doing?” Ellie yells up the stairs, “It’s dinner time. My mom
made mac and cheese!”
   “Coming!” I yell back.
   Every day my mind plays back the horrible memories of the days leading up to
the hurricane, the day of the hurricane, and the long days of waiting for any news
on my family after.
   I am living with Ellie, her mom, and her brother in Wisconsin right now and have
been for the past year. After staying at the stadium and trying to find my parents
for a week, we found them, but not the way I had wanted to. They were found
floating dead in the water a couple miles from our house. Ava and Ana were found
dead to still clinging to each other stopped up against the house next to ours. Most
of Maine's coast has been destroyed including my entire neighborhood. Moby was
never found.
   My life has been turned upside down again, and it can never be the way it used
to be. I miss my family and Moby so much every day. But at least I have Ellie and
her amazing family to take care of me now.

~end~
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