June 23, 2024

“The only thing I could see was water, a huge sea sweeping away everything in the neighbourhood.

“Our street, our neighbours, our house, my mother and father, people’s voices, crying children, mobile phone screens fading with their owners as they drowned.

“Do you know what is worse than hearing screams? The silence that comes after it. It’s this creepy peace that haunts me today.”

Ahlam al-Zenni describes the catastrophic inundation of Derna as if she’s in a trance, repeating herself.

“The silence that comes after it.”

The 39-year-old lived with her son, her parents and her two brothers in their two-story house in Derna, where they went through what people in the city call Judgement Day.

“Local channels and social media had news of the storm, but we weren’t paying much attention. We kept saying it was a storm, that it would pass. The worst thing we thought would happen was wet carpets or damaged furniture. We never thought things would be more serious.”

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