[Van’s] photos are beautiful and happy but she knows something is wrong – she can see what I can’t see. Everyone has to suffer something, whether it’s a few broken dishes or a few feet missing from their house, but often people ask where’s the problem with the photos when people can’t see the problem at all.
Ida lived across the creek from me and those photos are probably from before I was born. I can see that she’s holding a bird, whether it’s alive or dead. The shell of an old Volkswagen on the beach is probably from Ida too. Many of the photos are from right before the storm hit. By my mother’s side, all we lost was destroyed grain bins and trees. I remember we hadn’t been to that section of hotel for years, and we heard this roar, a roar I never heard before. The roar reminded me of an F-16 fighter jet. My brothers were bigger and their pictures had never looked like that before. They are old now and I wonder what would they look like with this eclipse on their faces.
This night, we tried to stay calm and have fun, but I wasn’t the same. Looking around me, I felt like I could see inside homes. I could smell coffee, smoke, water, and the smell of sand was everywhere. People were hugging each other under the falling water. There was blood all over everything, and my mom and I had accidents everywhere we looked. We had a lot of games we played every year at the beach, like write on water to see if your paddle would disappear, and board races, but this time the water was just too strong and the waves weren’t even big enough to fit our fins, so we just swam to shore. My mom and I would always make snowmen in the beach. We lost our snowman that night.
Another photo I remember is of Ida’s nose, her hair was frayed and blood is all over it. She probably tried to duck just in time, but she wasn’t going to be able to open her eyes fast enough. She was lucky and maybe all of this could have been avoided.
For me, that summer felt like a dream, it seemed like a movie, like I just left my life and came home to live in your house. But I didn’t have a permanent home and it was a simple adjustment to be by yourself for a while. When Ida became a monster, I didn’t know what to do – the whole place was filled with people who all believed that Ida was God’s punishment.
Ida was a terrible storm. She stripped off people’s clothes, gas masks and glasses, and those photos show us the devastation, we didn’t get anything much. We were fortunate; my mom had my brother and me because she was the one really strong enough to take care of us. I remember my brother would run to me under the kitchen table, he was still awake and wanted to see me after the storm. I remember going with him and we got to the first cottage my mom found and they were all gone. I went home with my mom and we were pretty worried when we found out that my brother lost everything, my brother hadn’t washed his clothes or anything yet. I remember my mom wrapped him in a blanket and we drove back to our own house.
People are scared of Ida because they don’t know what to expect. Since the storm, I’ve seen things like an erosion problem and levees that were in danger. People don’t understand what can happen to wildlife and the island itself. But it’s really bad. For people who have grown up and know how storms are supposed to work, sometimes it’s hard to take the pictures out of context. These photos show what we’re up against. These are for people who don’t really understand what is happening to us. It’s for everyone, for everything, everything, and that’s a terrifying thought.