Many lessons have been learned from Superstorm Sandy, but for Courtney Chibbaro weathering the storm and damage she suffered while living in Seaside Park helped her become a confident person, look at things with a second set of eyes, and conclude that there is greatness in the world.

A boat motors between flooded homes after heavy rains inundating the region in Hammond, La (AP Photo/Max Becherer)

The 32-year-old storm survivor who gave others hope by starting the annual Christmas on the Island holiday extravaganza in Seaside Heights, is now undertaking efforts to help flood victims in Louisiana by organizing a donation drive and card collection.

"I knew that I wanted to get something started right now, that was a good, feel good, something, anything that we could do," said Chibbaro.

All Chibbaro had to do was post a message on her Facebook page seeking help to at least get the card collection underway while awaiting a list of core items flood victims will need from her contacts in Louisiana.

"From having so many wonderful contacts and people that I worked with from Sandy, the replies just came forward. They just saw the post and somebody tagged another person," Chibbaro said.

Nonprofit organizations and schools are stepping up to help write messages of hope, including the Central Regional District and North Brunswick, where Chibbaro said she grew up.

Chibbaro vividly recalled being bused back to the barrier island two weeks after Sandy to see the damage for the first time.

"On my street, I had Louisiana State Troopers, and they were nothing but lovely," said Chibbaro.

To ensure the donation collection and truck delivery is accomplished strategically, without overloading Louisiana with things they don't need right now, Chibbaro expects to have a list of core items that are needed.

"Whether it's basic shelter needs, whether it's hygiene materials and water and clothing, or whether it might be materials to start mucking and gutting out houses," said Chibbaro. She noted she has received offers from people willing to drive trucks and trailers down to Louisiana.

Once the specific needs are more detailed, Chibbaro also plans to contact federal lawmakers who she says were instrumental during Sandy.

One thing that is certain right now, Chibbaro wants displaced families to know they will get through the ordeal, and points out that giving them cards can help them feel better and heal.

"By helping others and showing others that you will prevail, you will stand up again, you will be OK. And for the kids: You will be in school again, you will be in a home again. And at least we can give them that little piece of something for right now."


Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at

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