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A teenager's audio account of surviving a flash flood in Waverly, Tenn.


Last summer, 17-year-old Zoe Turner rushed to the top floor of her home to survive a catastrophic flash flood in Waverly, Tenn. Twenty of her neighbors died, and more than 700 homes nearby were damaged. Damon Mitchell with member station WPLN helped Turner record an audio diary for this postcard from a flood survivor's last year in high school.

ZOE TURNER: I've never experienced such, like, terrible feelings or, like, just feeling so raw. And I feel like I've overcome that through, you know, coming back physically and emotionally, just building back up from that.


TURNER: Surprisingly, the mood after Thanksgiving break at school has been pretty normal. We are cramming in most of my classes because we missed the three weeks after the flood. So that put us back quite a bit, and everyone had to take a while to get back in the swing of that.


TURNER: A pretty strong storm is coming through right now. I do get nervous if we've had a lot of rain and then the water starts to come up. I know that what happened is completely out of the usual. But it still makes me nervous. A lot of people do have trauma from the flood.


TURNER: I feel that the flood - like, I get a lot of memories of it. Every single day, I'm reminded of it. So in that aspect, it feels more real. The reality set in eventually.


TURNER: I'm about to head into high school for my last full day. I will be taking two finals. All of my friends and everyone, we keep reminding each other, like, oh, this is our last day. Like, last night, it was like, this is the last time we could ask our parents to sleep over and they say no because it's a school night and we have school the next morning. I'm kind of a little bit sad to say goodbye to this part of my life.


TURNER: Think about the present moment we are living right now. What we've been waiting for is finally here. Thank you again to all the teachers, family and friends that have encouraged and prepared us for this moment.


TURNER: I've grown up here my whole life. So many people know me from when I was, like, you know, a baby till now. And I guess I'm kind of excited to have interactions with people where they don't already have an idea, like know me or know what I've done, just kind of going in with, like, a blank slate, I guess.


TURNER: Now I feel a lot stronger because of what I and the rest of the community went through. I feel very resilient. I'm looking forward to what Waverly will become in the future and how it'll grow.


MARTINEZ: Zoe Turner graduated last month and will be a student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville this fall. She made recordings as part of member station WPLN's continuing coverage of the deadly flood in Waverly, Tenn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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