No Longer

The water was cold. Even though I was wearing rain boots, the water was still seeping into my boots like it was into my lobby. The lights were still on in my lobby then, but it was dark outside. Nobody thought it was going to be this bad.
My neighbors and family earlier had cleaned out the lower shelves of our basement because we thought it was going to flood. Not like this though. Nobody had expected it to come in to our lobby. We weren’t prepared at all.
I had been sitting with my family on the couch. Everything was warm and cozy. It was family time that we didn’t get a lot. “The water! The water!” Our neighbor came running through the hallway screaming. The water was coming up. Quickly.
People started streaming into our apartment, trying to help. Things were not packed anymore. Just stuffed into black garbage bags. Neighbors took those garbage bags upstairs. Our cat, Nacho, was almost left behind. I couldn’t bear to leave him behind, so I put him in his cat carrier.
My parents sent my brother and I to my neighbor’s house so they could finish packing. My neighbors and I heard that the water had come into our lobby. We went to go look. As the water was seeping into my lobby people were screaming. No one knew what to do. My brother was with me. He’s only nine! We didn’t know where our parents were, but someone told us to help out. We both got brooms and started trying to sweep the water away. Suddenly the lights went off. It was really dark and we were standing in five inches of water. Then the fire alarm went off. The building had been pumping water out, but when the power went out, so did the pump. An adult came running in, screaming, “The water cracked the windows! Our Apartments are gone!” My brother started to cry and scream. We were cold, alone, and in the dark. The water was still rising quite quickly. Suddenly my mom came running in. I had been holding my screaming brother so I ran over and handed him to her. I had been holding my cat that entire time. My mom, brother and I walked up 3 flights of stairs in pitch-black darkness. We arrived on the third floor with many of my other neighbors. It was the scariest thing I have ever been through. The water was still rising and I knew that all my belongings downstairs were gone. My bed, my posters, my stuffed animals. It was all gone. We put my cat in a laundry room with a bowl of water and food. There was a family that lived right next door to us in the apartment too. They had a baby and a toddler. While the parents were trying to figure out what to do, I took the toddler and my brother into another room and read them a story. It was slowly getting later and the toddler and my brother were getting tired. Our parents were still crying and yelling. It was loud, hectic and scary. I found a blanket and two couches. I put the toddler and my brother on both couches and put them to bed. Our parents had come into the room at this point.
We could see the water out the window. It was above the trees. You could also see the Manhattan skyline. Usually its one of the most relaxing things to watch. That night, the skyline was dark.
The neighbors who owned the apartment we were in had come home from upstairs. My brother is friends with the kids who live in the apartment, so he got up to go sleep with them in the big bed.
It was too much for me to handle. My house was gone, my parents were crying and I was stuck in an apartment that wasn’t mine. I went to the pitch-black laundry room where my cat was. I held him; I think he knew I was upset. I was still wet from the flood. It was cold since there was no power. He was warm and purring softly. I buried my face in his warm fur. Things had quieted down, my parents had stopped yelling so much and I felt a little better knowing my cat was O.K. I went out to the living room where everyone was. There were big windows that you could see the water through.
The water was still rising. There was a garbage can floating around in the water. The bookstore across the street had five feet of water in it. All the books were floating around, nothing was right.
My neighbor had brought out blankets for all of us. I took one and lay down on a couch. I couldn’t sleep. I was too scared and cold. I could see the water from the couch. I kept imagining all my stuff floating around downstairs, the pictures and papers.
My parents were making calls to my grandparents, and my neighbors were making calls to their parents. The water had stopped rising but it wasn’t going down. It was windy. Really windy, the water was being blown everywhere.
I finally dozed off because I couldn’t take being awake, or even alive at that point.
When I woke up the water had gone down almost all the way. My parents offered me to take me down to see our apartment, but I couldn’t do it.
Our belongings were in garbage bags all over the building. Safe but scattered. We walked 12 flights of stairs, in total darkness to try to find our clothes. Then we had to walk back down those 12 flights carrying the clothes.
Our neighbor’s mother had come to our building to help out and she brought bagels, coffee and hot chocolate. Nobody was hungry, even though we hadn’t had dinner the night before. As we were trying to find our garbage bags of belongings, I felt something that I’ve never felt before in my building. A sense of community. People came together like I’ve never seen before, people I had never seen before were suddenly hugging me, telling me it was going to be O.K. Even though there was a sense of community, that warm fuzzy feeling from the night before was gone.
I still couldn’t take in the night’s events. All I wanted to do was go home to my warm bed, see my room, everything in its proper place. But I couldn’t do that. All of that was gone. My world had fallen apart, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Rebecca Horwitz, Age 13, Grade 7, Packer Collegiate Institute, Silver Key

This entry was written by NYC Scholastic Awards and published on September 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm. It’s filed under Personal Essay/Memoir, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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