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As we approach the one-year mark of the Great Flood of 2016, flood recovery is still in full swing throughout southern Louisiana. Multiple organizations from local non-profits to faith-based disaster recovery groups are still mucking, gutting, cleaning, painting and rebuilding homes. There are a number homes that are still left untouched from the flooding and organizations are working hard to get to everyone. While many residents have returned home, many still live in temporary and/or shared housing, or even in partially renovated homes. There is still more work to do, but there have also been many success stories; flooded houses are being completed, receiving new furniture, and homeowners are getting back to a sense of normalcy.
One of the many organizations working in Southern Louisiana is the Presbytery of South Louisiana (PSL). Christina Drake, the Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Presbytery of South Louisiana, states that she is “thankful for her collaboration with over a dozen recovery organizations, including Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge (RTBR)” in the recovery effort. PSL’s Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteers and RTBR have worked on 21 homes in Baton Rouge. As a result of PSL’s South Louisiana Rebuild Collaboration, RTBR, PSL, the Ascension Strong Long Term Recovery Group and Fellowship church, are partnering to expand into Ascension Parish and work on more flooded homes. Drake said their approach is to rebuild neighborhood by neighborhood, using resources and volunteers more efficiently and economically by working on multiple homes on a street or block.
Volunteer Louisiana supports local disaster recovery and rebuilding organizations, such as the Presbytery of South Louisiana and Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge, with grants through the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF). Volunteer Louisiana also promotes volunteer opportunities with these organizations on our website through the volunteer management system and social media. In 2016-2017, VGF grants have provided 11 non-profit, volunteer-driven organizations with over $100,000 to support the rebuilding of flooded homes. To date, these organizations have utilized over 700 volunteers, and those volunteers have provided over 5,000 hours of service in homes. But much more is needed.
Many organizations have had groups of volunteers consistently helping throughout the summer, but as August nears, volunteer groups are returning home and help is diminishing. Rebuilding organizations are looking for more volunteers to help fill the gap and continue working on homes in August and in the fall. If you are interested in volunteering with a disaster recovery and rebuilding organization in your area, please contact VolunteerLouisiana.gov.