I gained a slight sense of consciousness coming from my ears, as I could almost feel the wind trying to break my window with its threatening persistent gusts. My eyes shot open, even though they were heavy from having gone to sleep late the night before. But my sense of fear overruled my lack of strength, but like a drill sergeant hammering down on a new recruit, my fear was screaming at the top of its imaginary lungs for me to get up and stay alert because I was in a “war zone”.
“How is it strong already? Both the European and American models had the hurricane hitting land around 8 PM.”
Suddenly, I heard an inexplicable sound come from outside my window. The sound was almost drowned out by the howling of the wind. That’s when my gut tightened, letting me know that my brain sensed danger. Shortly after, the sound of my parents gasping confirmed that something was going on outside. With my safety on the line, I jumped out of my bed and rushed through the hallway to find my family staring through the front windows.
I approached my mother slowly, giving the impression that I was calm, even though I was certainly not. Once I was beside her, she gave me a hug, not dropping her gaze at the sight.
“You missed all the action,” she whispered in an insecure voice.
The scene was like that out of a movie. A tree, more than two stories high, had been completely uprooted and had been tossed like a piece of papers, landing on our driveway and blocking our only way of escape.
“How can this be?” I murmured to myself “They said it would hit land at 8 PM and it isn’t even 8 AM.”
Even though my parents heard me, especially my mother which was still next to me, none of them said anything because all of them were thinking the same thing I was – if this was going on now, there was no way of knowing how it would be like whenever it really hit.
My body was as stiff as a statue after staring at the fallen tree for minutes.
To get a better idea of what was going on around us, I shuffled my feet to the other window and gazed as far into the distance as the storm let me. The wind speeds were so high, that the gusts carried leaves and even small branches with it, which worked as projectiles battering every inch of our house. With all the rain and debris flying everywhere, it was impossible to see more than a few houses away. But through it all, I could see a few of the other trees that once stood tall at the sides of the road – all either on the ground or leafless.
I felt my knees start to give out. The combination of no sleep and the shock this was all having on me forced me to throw myself on one of our couches before my weakness would make me collapse. After minutes of staring at the ceiling, as much as I wanted to go back to sleep and think this was all a dream, I knew very well that this was the “catastrophe” I had been talking about exactly a week before whenever hurricane Irma nearly hit Puerto Rico. I thought that being a week with no electricity was a true catastrophe. But, as my father pointed out back then “You haven’t lived through a catastrophe just yet.” And he was right, at the time. But now that I was currently living through one, I didn’t know what to do or what to think. My mind was thinking in so much that it felt like if it wasn’t thinking of anything at all.
To break my inactivity, I decided to go back to my pitch-dark room, and find my iPhone. Once I had the phone in my hands, I noticed how the charging sign was no longer there. I looked up at the ceiling to see my fan dead. As an act of defiance to mother nature, I disconnected every single one of my wall plugs. I wanted to do it to show that not having electricity didn’t affect me, but I knew very well that I did it because I had no other choice. The last hurricane that was nearly this size left part of the island without electricity for more than 6 months. I knew I had to start preparing myself mentally to sustain such a hard blow to my teenaged life.
I took my phone back to the living room, where everyone was because although I wouldn’t admit it, not even to myself, I wanted to feel just a little bit secure. Sticking together was all I could do to feel safe.
Having nothing else to do, I opened the notifications I had received the night before, all up to 3 AM which was apparently whenever the signal went out. Buried deep within all the News notifications, I noticed a few messages from my girlfriend.
I opened and read them in shame. I had gone to sleep holding a grudge against her, which only made my sensitive emotions make me feel worse. There was no signal or Wi-Fi for me to apologize and, now that I think about it, maybe I would never get to say I was sorry… My heart burned, and a knot in my throat made my breaths hard to inhale.
I brushed the thought off before it made me break down in front of my family.
The entire island was going through this, and we would get through it together. And if all this destruction had already happened and it hadn’t even started, then we would all suffer from the aftermath of the storm together.
Now it was all a matter of waiting and see what the rest of the day would hold. But my mind was right, I was in a “war zone”, and I had a feeling that things were about to get worse.