Baton Rouge Flooding: What can I do?

I got a familiar call today from a dear friend of mine who was the catalyst for me coming to Louisiana 11 years ago and working in relief and recovery post Katrina. He said he was thinking about the people he needed around him to help and I came to mind. I told him I would love to help, but I just had knee surgery 4 days ago and am relegated to some couch sitting for a while more so my body can heal. It is hard to be sitting on the sidelines for this, as I am trained to stand up shelters, direct volunteer reception centers, and sit in the EOC during a crisis. But this event is 1) not over and 2) larger than we know at this point and help will be needed for a long time. So while today is not my day to help, we will see what tomorrow brings.

In the meantime, I wanted to see if I could bring some organization to the information being shared online.

1) Advocate: When people ask what they can do especially when they don’t live in the immediate area, the first thing they can do it share the story. While there has been coverage of the storm, there could always be more. The more people know about what’s going on the more help that can come in this direction. Share the good and the bad. The stories of help need and the heroism that has been displayed. For some stories that you can share see the following links:

More than 20,000 people have been rescued from their homes and 10,000 in shelters after catastrophic flooding: http://www.wbrz.com/news/10-000-in-shelters-after-catastrophic-flooding

A collection of photos here: http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/weather_traffic/collection_dcee2a14-6242-11e6-bd0b-5f8d1a0ae432.html

Baton Rouge flooding: What it’s like to save neighbors by boat: http://www.nola.com/weather/index.ssf/2016/08/louisiana_flooding_volunteers.html

Louisiana Floods Leave At Least 5 Dead, Tens Of Thousands Forced From Homes:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/15/490081973/louisiana-floods-leave-at-least-5-dead-tens-of-thousands-forced-from-homes

2) If you want to send something, send money. I know it would be much more fulfilling to send a cherished teddy bear that a kid can snuggle, but the reality is that needs change on almost an hourly basis depending on so many different factors. While people are brought into shelters often with nothing, the hope is they can be reunited with family asap that can help them get to a stable place with the necessities of life. The hope is that the shelter can be a short term solution. Right now we are still in rescue mode while some are in relief mode and recovery mode will kick in soon–all needing different supplies. Also, by sending money it allows the local area to purchase goods here which will help keep the economy moving and people getting paid when they can get back to work and the like. I’ve included a long list of people who are accepting donations online.

Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/what-we-do/disaster-relief/flood-relief
Capital Area United Way: http://www.cauw.org
East Baton Rouge Parish Schools: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/FoundationforEastBatonRougeSc/donatetoday-1.html
Catholic Charities: http://www.ccdiobr.org/programs/disaster-relief/229-catholic-flood-relief.html
First Presbyterian Church of Baton Rouge: https://members.fpcbr.org/default.aspx?page=3414
Companion Animal Alliance: http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx
Baton Rouge Area Foundation: http://www.braf.org/louisiana-flood-relief
Salvation Army of Baton Rouge: http://salvationarmyalm.org/batonrouge/

(If you would rather send gift cards, holler at me and I’ll send you my address with the personal guarantee they will be turned over to a recovery org. and publish that org, when I find one taking them.)

3) Also don’t forget the existing needs in our community. The people who were homeless before this disaster will be homeless after this disaster and cannot apply for any disaster relief. They are potentially being crowded out of the resources they normally rely upon because of the abundant need from evacuees. I remember some tough conversations with some of our homeless neighbors post-Katrina who had a very tough time because the relief effort overshadowed the everyday needs of our community. That also goes for the non-profit community. The established food banks and pantries need their volunteers just as much as the shelters that have popped up over the past couple of days. Consider reaching out to some of the following great non-profits:

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank: https://www.facebook.com/BRFoodBank/
Youth Oasis Children’s Shelter: https://www.facebook.com/YouthOasis/
St. Vincent de Paul: http://www.svdpbr.com/Volunteer.aspx
Companion Animal Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/companionanimalalliance/

SO where do you start? Have you checked on your neighbors, work colleagues, recreation team members, etc. to make sure they are ok? Do they have access to food, water, medications, and communications? If all is good in your hood, then start reaching out from there. Is your church or synagogue doing something you can help with? Maybe you can make phone calls to members from home to make sure everyone is ok. If that’s taken care of then look to places like volunteerlouisiana.gov (http://volla.force.com/HOC__Volunteer_Opportunity_Search_Page) and the Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/what-we-do/disaster-relief/flood-relief) to sign up for some formal opportunities if you would likel

I will be updating as I find out more information so please holler at me with info to add.