ALL JUSTIN WILLIS saw was the ocean. Peering down a dark hallway, through a hole in the wall, outside of his grandparents' 11th-floor condo in Surfside, Florida, he saw water and nothing else. Nearby, he could see through the top half of a neighbor's mangled door. The rest of that apartment, what he expected to see behind the door, was severed and gone.
Willis, a University of Connecticut baseball player, knew he and his family had to get out, somehow, and make their way toward the ocean. And he wasn't alone. Several floors below, Esther Gorfinkel knew she had to get out too.