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Hurricane Isaac no match for this young war veteran

1:12 AM, Aug 30, 2012   |    comments
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POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. -- It was seven years ago when the world watched with jaws dropped as residents of New Orleans were rescued from Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters.

And just like seven years ago, all across Metro Atlanta people are again opening their homes and their hearts to Louisiana families needing shelter from the storm, a storm this time named Isaac.

In one home, in particular -- in Powder Springs -- there is inspiration.

It comes from an Isaac evacuee who is 22 years old, who has already been through more life-threatening adversity than most, and who is just hoping he can get back fast to help rebuild his hometown -- again.

"It's devastation after devastation," he said Wednesday evening, and through it all he has learned to be steady as a rock -- for his family, for his hometown of New Orleans.

His name is Cornelle Carney. And he and his brothers, sisters, his nieces and nephews -- for the second time in seven years -- are riding out a hurricane in his uncle's home in Powder Springs.

Carney was just 15 when his family fled Katrina.  And his nieces and nephews were babies and toddlers.

"It leveled our house," he said.

Now, at 22, Carney is a veteran of the war in Iraq, and a high school English teacher in New Orleans. He just found out he has skin cancer from his time in the desert, and he's already receiving radiation treatment, causing his left eyelid to swell shut.

So in the past seven years, Cornelle Carney has been through war, two hurricanes, the loss of his home, cancer.  Yet all he wants is to get his family back to New Orleans as soon as it's safe for the little ones -- so he can help.

"To rebuild it. It's my city. It's where I'm from. I realize that there's a lot of dangers with going back. We live below sea level. We're a hurricane-prone city. But it's my city. I was born and raised there. I want to be back with the rebuilding process, however big or small it is."

Carney served in Iraq as a soldier with the Louisiana Army National Guard.  His unit has just been assigned to assist in security and recovery operations in New Orleans.

He wants to get his doctor's okay to rejoin his unit.

He said he refuses to let his spirits fall.

"I have to remain good-spirited, because the whole family looks to me as the person to lead, and if they see me down they know that something is wrong, so even with the cancer and even with having to evacuate, I'm going to stay high-spirited.... We're a family that believes in a higher power, a higher being. And we're always prayerful. And we're always reminded that stuff like this can happen. But we also know the power of prayer, and that's what we've been doing. I feel well. I'm just happy that we got my family out and everybody's happy and feeling good."

The family's hoping to hear soon how their neighborhood and their home in New Orleans are doing.

"I heard that there's a lot of wind damage and trees falling" in his neighborhood, but the family's new house was built on stilts that put the home two stories above the street, so they're confidant there is no flood damage.

They expect to be on their way back in a few days.

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