"We were laughing about sleeping in these two twin beds that were squished together," Tisserand recalled. "We were getting food stamps for food banks for the first time. When you're learning about how it feels to be suddenly dependent on others, you have to look for what's funny."
Ask for help, give help
Don't be afraid to give or receive help, he said. Don't sit inside.
Try not to compare your pain or loss to someone else's. You don't have to swim through your living room to say you've been through hell.
Tisserand remembers being stunned and then weeping uncontrollably when he received a package from a friend.
It was a new laptop.
"You will feel helpless. I just felt like I was not the agency of my life then," he said. "It was so unbelievable to me that someone did that for me."
When anyone gives you anything, small or large, cheap or expensive, know that they are trying to be there for you.
The Tisserands are at home in New Orleans, a city they never want to leave. For many disaster survivors, the tragedy redefines their definition of home.
Take pictures of everything
Kelly Maddy grew up in Joplin, Missouri. The 29-year-old and his wife thought it would be fun to go out and chase a tornado that was set to hit in April 2011. Tornadoes got little more than a shrug in Missouri, so this wasn't really the craziest decision.
It's like choosing to stay at home when there's a Category 1 hurricane forecast for your area. You've gotten through nor'easters before, so what's the harm?
When the Maddys finally made it back to their house, it was kindling. Their cars were gone.
"The night was a blur," he said. "You just stare and wonder what happened to my life? Then the panic."
"Document everything," Maddy said. "Every single insurance person you talk to -- and you'll be bounced around from person to person -- write their name down, write down everything they say. Use your iPhone. Take pictures of everything."
Know what supplies you have and how much you're going to need. Get that stuff soon. Don't put it off, he said.
There's going to be a level of bureaucracy worse than you ever imagined. Insurance workers will be kind, of course, because it's not personal. It's just the system.
Call them constantly. Don't expect them to call you, he said.
The Maddys lived in a basement apartment with their animals until finally rebuilding their house in February.
"Going through all of that almost broke us," he said. "Almost. 'Cause we're still here."