Op-tuh-mis-tik

It's hard not to be touched by the gratitude and grace Ed Hanna feels, given the cards life dealt him last year. Then again, he's had a few good hands, and rightly, he focuses on those triumphs rather than the tragedies.

When the storm hit Hanna took his three dogs in his arms, but two were blown completely out of his arms. Ironically, it was the dog he was able to hold on, 15-years old and blind, he ended up fearing for the most. The two younger dogs were sucked out of his grasp into the storm, but somehow survived, coming back soon after unharmed. The older dog, however, was eventually blown away and vanished. Ed didn't find him until three days later, trapped in rubble – also, miraculously, unharmed.

The anxiety over the fate of his dogs was bad, Ed says, but the worst was yet to come. Ed had missed an insurance payment. And his house had just been turned into kindling.

"That $169 payment ended costing me about a quarter million dollars," he says with a rueful smile. He had just finished a catering job the day before the tornado; the money from that gig was going to cover the insurance. This entire experience was a roller coast; "The insurance company said they were going to get me reinstated, and then they didn't."

Those peaks and valleys have categorized the journey; "People stole things from me, but then volunteers came to help me build my home."

Today, he says, he is in a good place. Those volunteers are hammering away as we speak. Ed says he is grateful, in a sense, that he didn't have insurance. If he did, he would have been on the hone in a hotel room. Today, he gets to personally thank and interact with the volunteers who have restored his faith and hope.

"Strong men and women have come from everywhere to help me. When one goes away, another takes their place."

Op-tuh-mis-tik