Sometimes after tragedy tears a neighborhood apart, a community heals it together.
Neighbors were under one roof Thursday night, wrapped in rhythm and beat, bound by profound loss.
"Flooding. I sat on the top of my stairs, on the top floor and I looked down at the first stair that lead up to the landing and I just watched the water," resident Fred Mann said.
Mann was in the crowd Thursday night at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn as the legendary band Los Lobos rocked the venue.
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He's among the scores of residents whose homes were ravaged by Hurricane Ida, now soaking in a benefit concert to help neighbors who are struggling to rebuild their lives.
Even the shirt on his back and the shoes on his feet, were donated by a complete stranger.
Millburn homes are not in a flood zone and not covered by insurance.
Countless residents and businesses suffered a total loss.
"The community has been through hell, and they are not back. These people cannot be abandoned. They are our neighbors. They are experiencing PTSD every time it rains," Co-Organizer Joanna Parker-Lentz said.
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"Actually, behind the theater, the river that flooded the town runs right behind the theater," Co-Organizer Mikole Richter said.
And so, the theater -- this gem in this community, wasn't spared either.
"I've got a lot of different kind of emotions going on because this is the first performance that's been in this theater since March 1st, 2020," said Mike Stotts of Paper Mill Playhouse. "We haven't even opened our season yet, so to be able to have an audience in our theater for the first time in over 18 months is quiet astounding."
"Community is not people that just share a zip code ... you know your neighbors got your back and now I know I'm a part of that," Mann said.
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