11/13/2012 04:57 pm ET

What I Saved From the Flood

As a reporter, I’ve interviewed many people who have survived natural disasters and watched as they’ve tried to salvage the possessions that meant most to them. Often it’s not the material they go for, it’s the sentimental or the legal: a family scrapbook; a stack of letters from a dead parent; birth certificates; a marriage license.

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