Victims of Past Hurricanes Share Lessons Learned

The Dormans were extremely lucky -- lucky that not only that they had friends and family members of means who were able to provide them with assistance, but lucky that they were willing to ask for and accept help. For those in need who find it difficult to ask for help even when they're in dire straits, Butterworth offers this advice.

"If you have trouble asking for help, you have to make a deal with yourself," he says. "What you need right now is a helping hand, and you will repay it when you can -- not necessarily monetarily. It could be by doing something to help that person out in some way."

Build a Sense of Community

The people who help you the most might not be your friends or your family, but your neighbors. Both Charles Smith and Joanna Gournault said what helped them cope was the sense of community and camaraderie they felt with their neighbors. They both reached out to the people on their block and saw them reach right back, with the reciprocity getting them through the trying time.

"The community came together," Smith recalls. "One house at a time, we just made sure that everyone was taken care of."

"If someone went out to search for food, and they found a bag, they would share it with the other people that live on the block," he adds.

The day before Hurricane Charley struck, Gournault had received a delivery of $1,500 worth of meat -- a six-month supply she had ordered from a company in Colorado because she doesn't like the meat in Florida. Without her neighbors' help, it was all going to spoil.

"One of our neighbors had a refrigerator attached to a generator, so we stored what we could with them," she says. "What we couldn't, we cooked and ate with them."

Gournault and her husband helped clean another neighbor's yard. In return, those neighbors made them coffee every morning while they worked.

"The more I helped everybody else, the more at ease I was," she says. "More or less, everybody came together."

"What I would tell people is to try to focus on others, rather than themselves," she adds.

But when thinking about Hurricane Katrina victims, Gournault, who now gets anxiety attacks when hurricanes approach her area in Florida, chokes up.

"God bless those poor people," she said. "God knows they need it more than we did."

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