When Hurricane Floyd blasted through North Carolina last September, it swamped communities, stalled businesses and brought ordinary life to a standstill - even for the children.
Now, their feelings about the "flood of the century" are part of a special collection in Joyner Library, at the East Carolina University. Excerpts from some of the 30 manuscripts are also posted on the FEMA for Kids Web site.
"The voices of children in disaster often aren't heard,"said Mary Boccaccio, interim special collections department head. "People don't ask them if they were afraid, were they hurt."
FEMA recommends that children who have been through a disaster be given an opportunity to write or draw about their experiences. By doing so, they are better able to process the trauma and move on. Boccaccio said it appeared such was the case with the Bethel Elementary School fifth-graders who participated in the project.
"They were really proud of what they had done," she said.
One girl wrote about how upsetting it was when her mother got stranded by the storm in another town and wasn't reunited with her family for four days.
"My mom came home on Sunday. Everybody was so happy. It was a dream come true," she wrote.
In another manuscript, a young girl described what she found when the family returned to their home after the flood waters receded.
"My bunk bed was crashed down on the side and my mom's room had a ceiling that fell down," she wrote. "The living room was the messiest. The TV had fallen down and the only thing that stayed up was my aunt's wedding picture."
To read the children's essays, click here.