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Advocate staff photo by Rebekah Allen -- A flooded home in Central belonging to Marlon Moore.

The phrase "everyone's an expert" usually means pretty much the opposite.

Google it, and you'll find entries headlined "Modern problems: Everyone's an expert," and "Suddenly, everyone's an expert," and even "Everyone's an expert: In the digital era, fakes need to be exposed." Say it out loud, and you can practically see the eye rolls.

But not here, and not now.

The curse of Hurricane Katrina and countless other past disasters carries a blessing for those affected by the latest catastrophic floods across Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and surrounding areas. If your house is flooded and you're displaced, many of your neighbors have been there and can help chart the difficult road ahead.

The internet is brimming with helpful tips on how to document damage in order to expedite and maximize government and insurance payouts. It's full of good advice on how to access aid, how to disinfect salvageable belongings, what supplies to bring to a house gutting, and — this is an important one — how not to fall prey to crooked contractors.

Advice is pouring in from all corners, from officials who've worked in recovery programs before, and even more from people who've learned some of these lessons the hard way. Individuals are showing up in droves to volunteer, and more are organizing themselves into groups to help tackle the next steps.

Nobody can will away the pain, disorientation, fear of what comes next and how you'll make it through, and even the discomfort that can come from relying on help rather than providing it. There are so many complicated emotions that surface in these situations — again, as too many Louisianans have learned firsthand.

Perhaps it can provide some small measure of comfort, though, that when people say that they understand, maybe they actually do.

Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.

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