There were pieces of wood and tiles all over the place. No house was left standing. The only big structures close to the big were a couple of buildings, which were about seven floors before the hurricane hit the area. Now, they were also a big pile of rubble that was very difficult to put apart from the rest of the rubble from all the other structures likes house and small business buildings and commerce. Everything had been destroyed in only one night and now people were trying to define what they were going to do after such a tragic event.
Anne had always lived in the area. Her parents had moved when she wasn’t even in their plans and the city was only beginning to flourish. Back then; they had some powerful hurricanes too but nothing like Eliza, the storm that had destroyed every single house. Anne had evacuated early the day before, leaving for a shelter inland. That move had saved her life. Many other people were not as fortunate. They had been afraid of leaving their things, their home, so they had been taken away by the storm along with everything else.
The death toll rose every hour, as more and more bodies were found beneath what remained of the houses. The ones closest to the beach had been the most affected but destruction had reached every single part of town, even those not so nice houses that were inland. Poor people who lived away form the beach and all of the beautiful things also died or were left to live in a pile of what used to be their home. The storm didn’t care who had money or who hadn’t. She just arrived at peak intensity and took everything with her.
It was true, however, that people had been warned long before the actual hurricane hit the city. But every prediction said it would turn north because of the warmer waters up there. Everyone was convinced that was going to happen. And the turn happened but it was too close to the shoe line. Actually, when all the data was compiles, the hurricane’s eye had never touched the ground. It had been away from the coast for only a couple of kilometers. The destruction was maximal that way. Not even something planned would have been so evil.
Anne spent all of the first calm day trying to find things in the remains of her house that she could use. Contrary to popular belief, people were not helpful or nice. All the opposite: they were vicious and didn’t want anyone to even step on one of the rocks they thought belonged to their house. People got really scared and believed everyone was out to get them and that their pile of garbage was somehow much more important or valuable than the other piles of garbage in the area. Some people even got weapons to protect their stuff.
Anne decided to explore her space and try to take as many things as she could salvage from the rubble. Of course, there wasn’t a whole lot to take with her, but she did found some valuables like kitchenware and jewelry and other stuff that she could use to sell and survive for some time. Anne was a widow and had never had any children so she was alone in the task of trying to make something out of her life after such a tragedy. She was always almost at the breaking point but somehow always pulled herself together and moved on.
When the sunset of that first day after the storm approached, she realized she couldn’t save anything else. The lot was still hers but it would take a while for the city to clean the neighborhood. She had to do something else that wasn’t camping there like a lunatic. She decided to pay a cheap hotel for a night and decide the next day what it was that she was going to with her life. As she drove to the hotel, she realized all of what was happening would have been a lot easier to handle with her husband on her side. But he wasn’t there.
Walter had died almost a year earlier from a strange disease that had almost annihilated his body in a matter of months. They never told her exactly what it was but the quality of his life quickly diminished: by the end of it he wasn’t able to stand on his own, speak fluently or properly use her hands. When he began to drown because of his problems one day, she had no idea she would lose him. And she also didn’t know he had signed a paper that said he shouldn’t be revived in case something like that happened. He had taken that decision in order or her no to make it.
Walter had been the love of her life, having met him in college. They used to do everything together. They planned and went on great trips and loved to try new things as a couple like dancing unknown rhythms or trying to learn a new language. It was hard for Anne to admit, but it was because of Walter that she had evolved and become a stronger and more loving person. Before she met him, she as a bit too rough and didn’t really care for romance or love or any of that. It was Walter, which showed her how beautiful love could really be.
Now she was by herself, sleeping in a small bed that smelled like old people. It was pitch black outside her room but even like that she couldn’t sleep. First, her husband had been taken away from her. Then, the hurricane destroyed everything. And now she felt extremely lost and lonely. It had o be said that she had no more family than Walter as she had lived her full childhood in an orphanage. That was what had made her tough in the first place.
The following day, she returned to her former house and tried to get some more stuff out but it was a very dangerous thing to do as the rubble could fall on her feet or hurt her somehow. It was a really difficult thing to do, to try and remember he things that had any value in order to sell them. She had also saved many things from him and now she couldn’t find any of it and it was making her desperate. She wanted those things to feel a little bit safer, as if someone was actually protecting her. Being alone was too hard after such a thing.
Suddenly, a group of people from the mayor’s office and the government appeared on a car with a sound device to reach everyone. They were saying that the rubble would be cleared off in the following weeks, as the machines needed for the job weren’t even en route to help yet. They said the disaster had touched many different towns along the coast and that they were trying to make the best job possible for everyone to feel safe and to be able to rebuild if they want that or to sell their lots if they decided that was the better option.
Anne was the first one to walk up to the car and make them stop by standing just in front of it. She had an impulse to do so and she did. She yelled at the people on the car, saying that they were talking as if it was something they did out of a routine or something, as if town along the coast got destroyed every day. And she also told them that she new for a fact that machines like the ones needed to clear the rubble were available to mayor’s office because of an article she had remembered reading to Walter when he was in the hospital.
Other neighbors came closer and agreed with Anne. They also thought the government had come to tell lies and to make them feel safe and calm when there was no reason to be either of those. They needed to get mad and to demand what was right, which was the removal of all the rubble as soon as possible in order for them to properly look for their belongings and then decide if they wanted to leave or not. Many people, most of the neighbors actually, came closer to Anne and surrounded her, in order to support her stand.
She then declared that they wouldn’t move until at least two machines came to clear the neighborhood. They would stand there and not let the vehicle leave. The people in it could walk away but the car stayed with them. One by one, the officials had to step out of the vehicle and walk away, afraid for their safety and humiliated because their corruption had been uncovered. Now, the neighbors hoped for the machines to arrive soon and Anne realized something she had in herself she didn’t even know about.