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So Sandy has come and gone, there is word of another winter storm on the horizon, and my mind keeps drifting back to the Garden State no matter what else I am doing.

“Christus in de Limbus”
Hieronymus Bosch

I have relatives who were in the storm path and luckily they all survived with their bodies whole and health intact, but my word…the images and stories coming out of Jersey and New York.

My mind dwells on this storm as the full scope of the damage is fully revealed. Everyday since Sandy came ashore last week, the scenes of utter devastation flooding my Facebook/Twitter feed and the nightly news are almost unimaginable. I remember what Bolivar Peninsula looked like before Hurricane Ike, so I know what one of these storms will do to the familiar and permanent but even I am shocked by the amount of destruction.

My thoughts swirl like dark water.

It makes me think of my dad.

My father; a hardworking, salt of the earth, steel-belted kinda man, has lived in the projected storm path of almost every major hurricane to punch Texas in the mouth over the last three decades.

Across the years, he has packed up in everything from raggedy old cars to expensive motor-homes in the mad dash to escape inland from these type of storms and their lingering wrath.

And just like so many other Americans this week, he never gave up hope. “Dutch” just walked back into the wreckage, rolled up his sleeves, and began the clean up.

At one point after Katrina, (Sorry, I can’t remember which storm was the next one to come in and wreck SE Texas, myself having moved up north years before,) the ol’ man finally reached his breaking point with water coming into the house and having to replace everything.

So what does this grizzled old steelworker do to combat mother nature?

My father proceeded to build a six foot concrete levy around the footprint of his home.

Buried three feet into the ground, and three feet above; you cannot pull into the garage attached to the house anymore, and stepping over the wall is a bit treacherous in the rain (or when it’s dark and one has had too many cocktails,) but it’s there.

Six feet of steel reinforced concrete, standing guard against the bayous of Southeast Texas for that moment when the wind and rain force him to retreat inland and higher ground.

In the bottom left hand corner, you can see lip of the concrete ramp my dad built to get over his levy wall…

On the positive side, he has yet to have a drop of water come into the house from flooding since. On the negative, it kinda looks like a giant machine gun bunker if you see it in the right light.

Point of the story: I know the pain these families all along the Northeast are going through.

I have family scattered from Houma, Louisiana to North Branch, New Jersey and we all know what its like to huddle in the dark for days. Waiting anxiously for the wind to die down and waters to recede. Long tense moments of anticipation; marking time till the power comes back and scares away the shadows so humanity can start the process of rebuilding.

These are dark days but we, as a country will persevere. Why? Because of the “Dutch” factor. Those millions of Americans out the just like my Dad who refuse to quit.

You got it in you…Take your money or time, (I know it’s tough with the holidays coming), and give everything you can to help return the sparkle to somebody’s holiday season this year in the Northeast.

Be part of the “Dutch” factor. Just pick a charity and give.

CharityWatch, formerly known as American Institute of Philanthropy, is a nonprofit charity watchdog and information service.

Right now, we Americans have a greater duty than just choosing who we want to lead us for the next four years.

This Thanksgiving, nature has given us Americans the chance to earn that elementary school image of ourselves at this time of year. We can come together right now; just like in those First Thanksgiving picture so many of us colored with care back in the third grade, and help make someone else’s life better.

All it takes is a moment of kindness. When you take the time to help this week:

You will put the food on somebody’s table.

You will be turning the lights back on.

Tonight, someone needs a roof over their head and you will be there to provide them beds to sleep in…

All that for a donation that might buy you a carton of smokes or fill up your truck this week.

So…From the fireside hearth of my Minneapolis home; nestled here in the heart of chilly Minnesota, I sign off tonight’s fireside chat with a message of caring and hope.

Love your brothers and sisters, America. Who else do we have?

P.S. Go Vote.

P.P.S. Make sure you go to SurvivalPod.com, get your free story, and keep watching.

Things are really starting to heat up ’round here. Issues 1-2 & Vol. 1 are being escorted to the editor’s desk by a whole platoon of M.I.B’s as I type… ; )

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