Hurricane Donna struck the coast of New York in the early mornng hours. It had lumbered up the Eastern Seaboard slowly before its dark arrival. I awoke to windows rattling in the nearly hundred mile an hour wind and rain splashing against the panes in waves so heavy I thought the glass would smash. There was nothing between my bedroom and the furious storm except those flimsy windows. Our apartment was on the top floor of a building that sat on the top of a hill. It seemed to me like we lived in the clouds. Our windows overlooked a couple of steep, downhill blocks of one-story homes and culminated at the beach. The horizon was the Atlantic Ocean. There was nothing to buffer our home. I sat in a panic until the daylight which came slow and weak. Then, the damage could be seen. Tree limbs on top of parked cars, streets flooded and the traffic light swaying on broken wires.
The daylight seemed to break the intensity of the storm. The winds slowly abated and pouring rain subsided. By midday, Donna was gone. There were breaks in the clouds that let the sun shine down. It was then that my father took my sister and me for a walk on the beach. We walked on streets that were eerily quiet. The few stores we passed were still closed. Occasionally, we had to circumvent huge puddles that looked more like ponds around the curbs. But, the real amazement came when we left the streets and walked on the beach toward the shore.
When daylight first broke, we could see the roiling surf but now, standing just a few feet away, great white crests crashed down hard spewing salty drops over us. The sound was so loud, so constant, that we had to shout to hear each other. The sand was littered with dead horse shoe crabs, broken shells and sea weed. There were bits of boats and ropes and tree trunks sticking out of the sand at odd angles. For as far as we could see, there were no other people there.
When we returned home, the windows were no longer rattling and the sun was shining. We settled in to a calm, normal evening.