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The fire & the flood

Siblings Thomas Knoll '25 and Julianna Knoll '22 lost their home twice this year, once to a burst pipe and then to the flames

Julianna: At the beginning of the school year, our house flooded from the top floor to the basement. We had to remodel our entire house, redo carpet, redo walls, redo all of our furniture. We had a brand spanking new house, and then it burned down.
Thomas: After I heard that our house was gone, I just didn’t really feel like anything. Even when my mom and my sister came back from seeing what was left of our house and neighborhood, I didn’t cry at all.
I would just sit there because I didn’t know what to do.
I felt empty.
I didn’t feel happy, but I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t even believe it at first.
Julianna: When my mom and I went back, we found some pieces of ceramic things that I made in elementary school. They were cracked and broken and burned, but they were still there.
We have our mailbox, too. And we found the carabiners that attached my dog’s leash to the tree in the front yard. The rope part was burned, but the little carabiners that kept it tied were still there. Finding those was really nice.
Going back there is kind of peaceful. The first couple times were really rough, and it’s always emotional going back there. But in a weird way, it’s peaceful. That’s all I’ve known for the past 17 years of my life. The energy of the neighborhood and the feeling of being somewhere familiar, even if it’s not how you left it, is weird. It’s emotional, sad, awful, devastating—but I kind of feel like I’m protected and safe there.
It’s comfortable when everything else in my life is now uncomfortable. It’s calm.
Thomas: I’ve gone once, and I was, like, happy. I don’t know why. It was a really strange feeling. I just kind of sat there, looking at it, and thought, “it’s good to be back, I guess.”

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