The waters have receded from the shoreline communities of New Jersey and New York, revealing tales of great tragedy.
Among those who died are homeowners who either did not think the storm would be so bad, and those who were determined to save their homes from a force they could not comprehend.
How could someone, after watching the images from Louisiana, not make a run for it?
As an author, it is your job to make sense of the mindset of such a person. If you can get inside that head, and present it to a reader, you have done your job.
What is it about a home, about that shelter, that would compel a man to remain behind to protect it? To be sure the pumps were raining in the cellar, to keep the place dry and safe for the family, why is that more important than saving one's own life?
Then paint another character, that of the politician who makes a calculated decision to stage a planned marathon in a city brought to its knees by a powerful storm. What is the mindset of such a man, who would redirect electricity-producing generators to power facilities for runners, leaving the residents to the chaos that is the loss of power.
There is much for a writer to mine, to explore deep within and then paint their protagonists and antagonists with realism that the reader can relate to.
The stories are all around. It's a matter of sitting down and putting some of them on paper, using real human experiences to put flesh on the bones of an imaginary person. Giving such a person life will depend on the author's ability to take reality and put it into fiction.
That is what is meant by writing what you know. You've seen it. Now you know it. So go write it.