On Thursday, Sept. 11, Rhiannon and I stayed with Daily News Photo Editor Jennifer Reynolds in her downtown loft. We planned to get up early on Friday to witness and report on the island’s final hours before Ike. We set our alarms for 7 a.m., but we never needed them. At 5:30 a.m., Jennifer got up and looked out the window. Water already filled the streets around her building. As we scrambled to gather our gear and race down to our cars before they flooded, we began to feel the full horror of the storm’s impending arrival.
Ike’s early appearance shocked us. We had prepared for the howling winds and lashing rain of the predicted overnight landfall. We did not expect to watch the island slowly swallowed throughout an entire day. I felt like I was watching a horror flick where the terror that grips the victim before the killer attacks drags on for the entire movie, instead of just a few scenes.
Like most people who stayed on the island, we watched the spreading storm surge with the realization that Ike would be much worse than we had prepared for. Chapter Three of “Forgotten” introduces that element of horror as the people who refused to evacuate understood what they were in for. People who didn’t want to get trapped in their houses waded to Ball High School in hopes the massive building could stand firm against the wind and water. Those already trapped panicked when they thought about how much time the water had to rise before Ike bowled over the island. They made plans to retreat into their attics or lash themselves to trees to keep from blowing away. Many people told us the night of Sept. 12 was the most terrifying they had ever experienced.