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Life After Sandy: Time Heals All Wounds

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October 31, 2012

Life After Sandy: Time Heals All Wounds

By Joe Cermele

It was 7:30 Monday night when I heard the sound I'd been fearing all day. One of the huge trees that surround my house started to crack, and next came the whoosh of it starting to fall. Faster than I have ever moved in my life I shoved my wife out of the family room into our hallway and dragged the dog in by her collar. The sound of the hit is something I'll never forget. In the dark, having no idea where the tree was going to land, was truly the scariest moment of my life. Luckily (very luckily), the massive beech tree and monster maple it took out on the way down spared the house. They did, however, pulverize my garage and mangle my truck. But my loss is absolutely nothing compared to what Hurricane Sandy did to so many others in the Northeast. It's just a truck, it's just a garage, it's just a few snapped rods, and no one got hurt. I can deal with all of that. What I can't deal with is seeing another image on the news of the Jersey Shore I love so much, or getting another call from a friend nearly in tears because they don't know where their boat is or what became of their property closer to the water.

I am not going to pretend that what Sandy did to the Northeast is worse or more important than what good friends of mine along the Gulf have endured over the last 10 years. Given that we haven't seen a storm like this in the Northeast in over 100 years, the media has a habit of treating this disaster like it's somehow more devastating than any other storm. I'm not going to do that. I am just going to say that the Ocean City boardwalk my wife and I walk on every summer holiday weekend is gone. Casino Pier in Seaside, which just last Friday I drifted in front of looking for stripers, is gone. The jetties in Point Pleasant I've spent years fishing are likely trashed. My favorite bars, tackle shops, and holes-in-the-wall with great pork roll sandwiches from Cape May to Sandy Hook are destroyed. And it hurts. It may not hurt any worse than what others felt losing familiar haunts in other storms, but all I can say is I never thought in my lifetime I'd see such mass destruction of the places I've loved since I was little.

As with any tragedy, time will heal the wounds. These wounds will, unfortunately, take a long time to heal. My heart is breaking for anyone affected by Sandy, and I wish you all the best of luck recovering from your loss, no matter how severe or how minor it may be. And to all of my fishing comrades who were in the storm's path, after the dust settles just a bit, wet a line, even if only for a little while. Nothing gets my mind off hard times like fishing. The first things I salvaged from the garage were a 5-wt fly outfit, my waders, and my chest pack. Over the next few days, between a revolving door of tree removal guys, insurance adjusters, and contractors, you can bet I'll find time to sneak away for a while and stick a rainbow trout on a Bugger. And when I set the hook I'll smile the first smile I've smiled in days.

Comments (24)

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from jay wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

That sucks about your garage and truck but thankfully your family is safe.

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from santa wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Joe, I feel for you and you losses as well as the many others who were affected by Sandy. I live in the deep south and have had to endure many storms myself. My favorite fishing place of all time is the Chandeleur Islands. I have had to live through the damage done to these islands from Betsy in 65, Camille in 69, Fedrick in 79, Andrew in 92, Opal in 95, Danny in 97, Ivan in 04, and Katrina in 05. Yet Chandeleur has recovered from all these storms and is still a good fishing spot. Nature just seems to have a way of taking care of itself, but the damage to mankind and our pocessions is another thing. Thankfully pocessions can be repaired or replaced, but our lives are still interruped. The key word here is our lives because as long as we do not loose them, nothing else matters in the long run.

By the way, the eye of Hurricane Danny in 97 stalled for seven hours just four miles due south of my house and dropped more than 25 inches of rain on me during that time. I got a total of over 36 inches of rain in less than twelve hours. Then in 04 the dead center of the eye of Hurricane Ivan passed over my house, and I was in my home both times. Thus I do know the erie sound of trees breaking and crashing around me and can sympathize with you and your experience with Sandy.

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from ckRich wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Keep your head up. Prayers are with you guys.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

The story I heard is you were glued to the TV watching Project Runway when your wife pulled you to safety...

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Utter lies, Buck. Utter lies! :)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from maynardtl8 wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Glad to know you are all ok, Joe. Use fishing to keep your spirits high.

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from LAKEM0NSTER85 wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Glad to hear you & the fam are ok. Like you said, it's easy to deal with a few snapped rods, damaged truck & garage. It's times like these that remind us of what's truly valuable in this world ! The damage closer to the coast looked pretty bad from what I caught from the news stations..

I wish everyone on the East coast the best & hard work & time will eventually heal the damage done.

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from treelimit wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Joe,

Thoughts and prayers with you and your neighbors.

They say that laughter is the best medicine, so in that spirit I ask, was your stand up paddle board spared?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

My heart-felt thoughts and prayers go out to everyone effected by Sandy.

Although I don't live in New Orleans, I've spent some time there and have some wonderful memories. After Katrina hit, I realized that even though the structures will be rebuilt, stores & restaraunts will reopen, and life will eventually resume, it'll never be the same New Orleans that I remember.

I've also spent the past 2 summers in Atlantic Beach, N.C. and I've watched piers that my son & I fished off of disappear into the sea. Sure, they'll be rebuilt, but Jake and I will never get to fish the pier we salt-water fished for the first time again. I completely agree with you...it hurts. It truly hurts.

Mother nature can be both beautiful and brutal. Thankfully, all the rains, storms and destruction in the world can never take the wonderful memories of the outdoors from us.

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from VAHunter540 wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Joe

Certainly glad to hear you and your family are doing okay. That must have been a very good episode of Project Runway.:) My thoughts and prayers are with you, and the many others in the Northeast who got slammed by Sandy.

I cant help but notice in your garage picture, did "Patchwork" survive or will it be living up to its name even more after this?

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from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

VA, I think Patchwork will be OK. One side looks deflated but it always had a slow leak and was low before the hit. It's still holding some air, so I don't think it got punctured further. Nothing patches can't fix if it does during clean-up.

To your question Treelimit, the raft survived because I laid my stand up paddle boards on top of it earlier in the night. Those got demolished, and I'm so scarred I don't think I can bring myself to get on an "SUP" again. :)

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Joe,
Glad your near miss (if you'd call it that) wasn't any worse. I'm not the most faithful guy around, but I can't help but wonder as go about my business just outside of Green Lane, PA. Considering the large number of large trees that are down in yards, side yards, and lawns, I've only seen one main house that had related damage to a corner. It seems incredibly unlikely if left to random chance. Regardless, I'm glad you and yours came through unscathed in body if not your property.

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from Fruguy101 wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Well, Top Gear proved that you can't kill a Toyota pickup, so that's one thing you can count on still working while damaged. News outlets are kind of like that character 10-second Tom in the movie 50 First Dates. Big storm comes, they go "Wow, this is the worst storm ever!" As soon as it's over and people are starting to pickup the pieces, they go, "Today, Obama signed another piece of riveting legislation into law." Then we find out he funneled the money to a relief organization in kentucky or somewhere else that was not impacted by the storm. Just how things go.

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from deanlikes2fish wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I live near Half of Two (Havelock NC) and I understand a little of what you are going through Joe, one hand it is frustrating because some of your stuff is briken, but on the other, your family is safe. Just take it one day at a time and for me at least the best therapy is to go and help other people that were hit also. Plus like you said, go fishing when you get the chance. I'm praying for you guys!

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from Marc Moore wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Hello guys ..I have seen the destruction up close and personal..I work for the city of Atlantic City as a Heavy Equipment Operator and let me tell you I have never seen the city I work in look so bad.The boardwalk in the inlet is all gone and is in the street .I have cleaned up boards from the boardwalk 6 blocks away from where it used to be.There were boats in the streets""house off their foundations""cars full of sand "4 foot of sand going down the middle of the street even cross streets had sand it was bad .I went to friends house to see if his house was OK !!I found him sitting on the steps of his porch crying And his house totaled he lost everything .The hole city was underwater even center city was flooded .Me and my crew will be cleaning up and helping the people of the city for as long as it takes.My prayers go out to all my friends and family that went thru this HELL ON EARTH..........marc moore (A.C.P.W.Dept)

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from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I'm glad you and your family are okay. Things will get cleaned up as time goes by but some of the things you grew up with are gone forever. My heart goes out to all of the people hit by Sandy.

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from jimmyroy wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

As a Hurricane Katrina survivor, my thoughts and prayers go out to y'all up there.

While it was/is hard to imagine what we went through down here in the New Orleans Region...and I would never wish this on anybody else...the fact is that y'all have experienced a little of what we went through down here in September 2005.

Sandy was a much bigger storm at landfall, but also a "weaker" storm that when Hurricane Katrina made landfall...and I believe, and have believed since 2005 that the way hurricanes are graded and forecast needs to be changed/upgraded.

Or problem was that the levees and floodwalls that were engineered and built by the Army Corps of Engineers failed and we flooded well after Katrina had past...and it was the same levees and floodwalls that kept the water in place, until it was pumped out.

I consider what y'all experienced as more of a "tsunami" type of force...water in, water out, with the exception of low lying areas.

This is by no means trying to diminish y'all's experience with the horror, death and devastation of such a killer storm. Just know that this last September was our 7th "Anniversary" of Katrina and what doesn't KILL you, makes you STRONGER!!!

And I'm here to tell you, "Hang in there, things WILL get better".

God bless y'all and help you in these early days of your recovery.

Jimmy Roy
St. Bernard Parish
Louisiana

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from bassman06 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Joe, I'm glad too. However, my parents and I still haven't heard from my uncle who lives in Ocean City New Jersey and has been there since the 50's. We have yet to see the damage and home it isn't as bad as the news hypes it up as.
Good Luck

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from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Bassmanm, my in-laws have a home in OC, and it survived. As I understand it, OC didn't get it as bad as other shore communities. My thoughts are with you guys. I hope your uncle is OK.

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from bassman06 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Joe, we got wind of it being okay. My Uncle is too, and at 91 to boot! Also, if you're in the area when all this cluster stuff is fixed, look for the redfish hat on the north side of the board walk where the little pond on the beach is, I'll say hi!

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from wisc14 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

supposedly lake michigan had 25 ft waves because of the storm pushing inland.

living in wisconsin all my life i cannot imagine what a hurricane would be like. my thoughts and prayers to all those affected

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from jbell6826 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Glad to hear everyone is okay. Keeping everyone inflicted by this storm in my thoughts and prayers. With any luck you'll be back to those things you enjoy before too long.

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from whitefishpress wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Keep your head up amigo. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family, and everyone else affected by this big storm.

-- Dr. Todd

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from Carl Huber wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Living on Long Island and Brooklyn for 64 years life has always been interesting. Having weathered many a storm and disaster [911] I have always admired the unbreakable spirit that embodies my neighbors. From what seemed the endless parade of funerals that took place months after 911. To the sudden carnage that was Sandy it amazed me. Yes we were self controlled and law abiding and had a very good sense of what a good neighbor is. We even learned to drive without the help of traffic lights. But what I found best was the gallows humor and observations. Some of which are as follows; Why did Nassau county want to dress like New Orleans for Halloween. A young lady said to my son; Lighting a candle used to make me fell romantic. Now if I never light another candle it will be too soon. Or at least when your flooded out by the ocean it's gone in 12 hours. Or I never thought I would shovel sand with a snow shovel. My wife's girl friend "waited 3 hours in line for gas. Two cars in front of me they ran out of gas. I was so mad I wanted to burn the place down. But no gas". Or whoever names their "hurricane Baby" Sandy is setting her up for a hard time in grade school. Those are just a few of "it is what it is East Coast spirit". God Bless us and we will come back in a New York Minute".

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

The story I heard is you were glued to the TV watching Project Runway when your wife pulled you to safety...

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Utter lies, Buck. Utter lies! :)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from treelimit wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Joe,

Thoughts and prayers with you and your neighbors.

They say that laughter is the best medicine, so in that spirit I ask, was your stand up paddle board spared?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

VA, I think Patchwork will be OK. One side looks deflated but it always had a slow leak and was low before the hit. It's still holding some air, so I don't think it got punctured further. Nothing patches can't fix if it does during clean-up.

To your question Treelimit, the raft survived because I laid my stand up paddle boards on top of it earlier in the night. Those got demolished, and I'm so scarred I don't think I can bring myself to get on an "SUP" again. :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Bassmanm, my in-laws have a home in OC, and it survived. As I understand it, OC didn't get it as bad as other shore communities. My thoughts are with you guys. I hope your uncle is OK.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Joe,
Glad your near miss (if you'd call it that) wasn't any worse. I'm not the most faithful guy around, but I can't help but wonder as go about my business just outside of Green Lane, PA. Considering the large number of large trees that are down in yards, side yards, and lawns, I've only seen one main house that had related damage to a corner. It seems incredibly unlikely if left to random chance. Regardless, I'm glad you and yours came through unscathed in body if not your property.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

That sucks about your garage and truck but thankfully your family is safe.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deanlikes2fish wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I live near Half of Two (Havelock NC) and I understand a little of what you are going through Joe, one hand it is frustrating because some of your stuff is briken, but on the other, your family is safe. Just take it one day at a time and for me at least the best therapy is to go and help other people that were hit also. Plus like you said, go fishing when you get the chance. I'm praying for you guys!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fruguy101 wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Well, Top Gear proved that you can't kill a Toyota pickup, so that's one thing you can count on still working while damaged. News outlets are kind of like that character 10-second Tom in the movie 50 First Dates. Big storm comes, they go "Wow, this is the worst storm ever!" As soon as it's over and people are starting to pickup the pieces, they go, "Today, Obama signed another piece of riveting legislation into law." Then we find out he funneled the money to a relief organization in kentucky or somewhere else that was not impacted by the storm. Just how things go.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Keep your head up. Prayers are with you guys.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from LAKEM0NSTER85 wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Glad to hear you & the fam are ok. Like you said, it's easy to deal with a few snapped rods, damaged truck & garage. It's times like these that remind us of what's truly valuable in this world ! The damage closer to the coast looked pretty bad from what I caught from the news stations..

I wish everyone on the East coast the best & hard work & time will eventually heal the damage done.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from VAHunter540 wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Joe

Certainly glad to hear you and your family are doing okay. That must have been a very good episode of Project Runway.:) My thoughts and prayers are with you, and the many others in the Northeast who got slammed by Sandy.

I cant help but notice in your garage picture, did "Patchwork" survive or will it be living up to its name even more after this?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from santa wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Joe, I feel for you and you losses as well as the many others who were affected by Sandy. I live in the deep south and have had to endure many storms myself. My favorite fishing place of all time is the Chandeleur Islands. I have had to live through the damage done to these islands from Betsy in 65, Camille in 69, Fedrick in 79, Andrew in 92, Opal in 95, Danny in 97, Ivan in 04, and Katrina in 05. Yet Chandeleur has recovered from all these storms and is still a good fishing spot. Nature just seems to have a way of taking care of itself, but the damage to mankind and our pocessions is another thing. Thankfully pocessions can be repaired or replaced, but our lives are still interruped. The key word here is our lives because as long as we do not loose them, nothing else matters in the long run.

By the way, the eye of Hurricane Danny in 97 stalled for seven hours just four miles due south of my house and dropped more than 25 inches of rain on me during that time. I got a total of over 36 inches of rain in less than twelve hours. Then in 04 the dead center of the eye of Hurricane Ivan passed over my house, and I was in my home both times. Thus I do know the erie sound of trees breaking and crashing around me and can sympathize with you and your experience with Sandy.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

supposedly lake michigan had 25 ft waves because of the storm pushing inland.

living in wisconsin all my life i cannot imagine what a hurricane would be like. my thoughts and prayers to all those affected

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carl Huber wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Living on Long Island and Brooklyn for 64 years life has always been interesting. Having weathered many a storm and disaster [911] I have always admired the unbreakable spirit that embodies my neighbors. From what seemed the endless parade of funerals that took place months after 911. To the sudden carnage that was Sandy it amazed me. Yes we were self controlled and law abiding and had a very good sense of what a good neighbor is. We even learned to drive without the help of traffic lights. But what I found best was the gallows humor and observations. Some of which are as follows; Why did Nassau county want to dress like New Orleans for Halloween. A young lady said to my son; Lighting a candle used to make me fell romantic. Now if I never light another candle it will be too soon. Or at least when your flooded out by the ocean it's gone in 12 hours. Or I never thought I would shovel sand with a snow shovel. My wife's girl friend "waited 3 hours in line for gas. Two cars in front of me they ran out of gas. I was so mad I wanted to burn the place down. But no gas". Or whoever names their "hurricane Baby" Sandy is setting her up for a hard time in grade school. Those are just a few of "it is what it is East Coast spirit". God Bless us and we will come back in a New York Minute".

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I'm glad you and your family are okay. Things will get cleaned up as time goes by but some of the things you grew up with are gone forever. My heart goes out to all of the people hit by Sandy.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Marc Moore wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Hello guys ..I have seen the destruction up close and personal..I work for the city of Atlantic City as a Heavy Equipment Operator and let me tell you I have never seen the city I work in look so bad.The boardwalk in the inlet is all gone and is in the street .I have cleaned up boards from the boardwalk 6 blocks away from where it used to be.There were boats in the streets""house off their foundations""cars full of sand "4 foot of sand going down the middle of the street even cross streets had sand it was bad .I went to friends house to see if his house was OK !!I found him sitting on the steps of his porch crying And his house totaled he lost everything .The hole city was underwater even center city was flooded .Me and my crew will be cleaning up and helping the people of the city for as long as it takes.My prayers go out to all my friends and family that went thru this HELL ON EARTH..........marc moore (A.C.P.W.Dept)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from whitefishpress wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Keep your head up amigo. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family, and everyone else affected by this big storm.

-- Dr. Todd

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbell6826 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Glad to hear everyone is okay. Keeping everyone inflicted by this storm in my thoughts and prayers. With any luck you'll be back to those things you enjoy before too long.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman06 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Joe, I'm glad too. However, my parents and I still haven't heard from my uncle who lives in Ocean City New Jersey and has been there since the 50's. We have yet to see the damage and home it isn't as bad as the news hypes it up as.
Good Luck

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman06 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Joe, we got wind of it being okay. My Uncle is too, and at 91 to boot! Also, if you're in the area when all this cluster stuff is fixed, look for the redfish hat on the north side of the board walk where the little pond on the beach is, I'll say hi!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from maynardtl8 wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

Glad to know you are all ok, Joe. Use fishing to keep your spirits high.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

My heart-felt thoughts and prayers go out to everyone effected by Sandy.

Although I don't live in New Orleans, I've spent some time there and have some wonderful memories. After Katrina hit, I realized that even though the structures will be rebuilt, stores & restaraunts will reopen, and life will eventually resume, it'll never be the same New Orleans that I remember.

I've also spent the past 2 summers in Atlantic Beach, N.C. and I've watched piers that my son & I fished off of disappear into the sea. Sure, they'll be rebuilt, but Jake and I will never get to fish the pier we salt-water fished for the first time again. I completely agree with you...it hurts. It truly hurts.

Mother nature can be both beautiful and brutal. Thankfully, all the rains, storms and destruction in the world can never take the wonderful memories of the outdoors from us.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jimmyroy wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

As a Hurricane Katrina survivor, my thoughts and prayers go out to y'all up there.

While it was/is hard to imagine what we went through down here in the New Orleans Region...and I would never wish this on anybody else...the fact is that y'all have experienced a little of what we went through down here in September 2005.

Sandy was a much bigger storm at landfall, but also a "weaker" storm that when Hurricane Katrina made landfall...and I believe, and have believed since 2005 that the way hurricanes are graded and forecast needs to be changed/upgraded.

Or problem was that the levees and floodwalls that were engineered and built by the Army Corps of Engineers failed and we flooded well after Katrina had past...and it was the same levees and floodwalls that kept the water in place, until it was pumped out.

I consider what y'all experienced as more of a "tsunami" type of force...water in, water out, with the exception of low lying areas.

This is by no means trying to diminish y'all's experience with the horror, death and devastation of such a killer storm. Just know that this last September was our 7th "Anniversary" of Katrina and what doesn't KILL you, makes you STRONGER!!!

And I'm here to tell you, "Hang in there, things WILL get better".

God bless y'all and help you in these early days of your recovery.

Jimmy Roy
St. Bernard Parish
Louisiana

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