An Uncertain Future

By late afternoon, the roof framing is almost complete, and the guys are dripping with sweat in the hot sun. They retreat to Johnny's shop for some water, and get a construction update from a neighbor who has come to borrow a C—clamp. They also discuss the status of Johnny and Venus's appeal for a larger grant from The Road Home, a federally funded compensation program designed to give homeowners up to $150,000, minus any insurance or aid money they might have already received to cover their losses. The Moores were offered $60,000, but they're afraid it won't be enough to replace all that they've lost.

They hope a new offer comes soon, because they've got to get the house finished. The National Weather Service predicts as many as five major hurricanes will hit the Atlantic region this year, with peak season beginning now and running through the end of October. Johnny acknowledges that the next big storm could be even more devastating than Katrina. But he's betting that improvements such as replacing the old single—pane windows with stronger double—pane ones will help hold back the wind, and building the new addition on 4—foot piers will foil floodwaters. Besides, giving up and moving away from his boys and the city he loves is not an option he's willing to consider. "You've got to get rid of the fear. You can't worry about dying. You've got to take the challenge," Johnny says and climbs back on the roof to help Nigel nail new sheathing to the rafters.
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