Hurricane Sandy | Duke University Undergraduate Application Essay

It took two hours to get home, a three mile drive that should have taken a few minutes. A drive we’d made countless times without thinking. But things were different now. Everything was different now. Dad presented his license to the National Guardsmen at the barricade, as if it was some great honor to enter our side of town. Superstorm Sandy had created a VIP line unlike any I had ever seen.

Boats listed helplessly in front yards like toys scattered around a playroom. Splintered trees left like pick up sticks. I spied a table in the road. One refrigerator, then another. Cars moved gingerly, police guiding them through the maze of debris. Did someone pick up our house and shake it like a snow globe? Furniture was everywhere. The dirty, high-water line was apparent on every wall. My heart sank. Mom shook as she stared in disbelief, an inventory of our lives already tabulated in her head. We emptied our soaked belongings into the yard.

Neighbors scurried in and out of their homes like ants, carrying their life’s belongings outside. The piles got bigger and bigger. We worked hard, without emotion. The mattress toppled over. I tried to help but couldn’t lift it. I groaned. “Just leave it here, Mads,” Mom said. Then she grabbed my…

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