Here’s How to Help People Affected by Flooding in Louisiana [UPDATED]
UPDATED Aug. 23, 2016—1:40 p.m. PT
President Obama headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Tuesday to survey the damage left behind by catastrophic flooding. In a press conference he offered words of encouragement to residents and raised the call for all Americans to pitch in and help rebuild.
Obama directed people affected by the flooding to apply for federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, either by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA. Then he made a request of the nation.
“I’m asking every American to do what you can to help get families and local businesses back on their feet,” Obama said, pointing Good Samaritans to the website for Volunteer Louisiana, a state-run agency that is compiling volunteer and donation opportunities.
“I need all Americans to stay focused on this,” he said. “These are some good people down here. We’re glad that the people I had a chance to meet are safe, but they’ve got a lot of work to do, and they shouldn’t have to do it alone.”
It’s being called a 500-year rain event by some experts and a 1,000-year rain event by others. Now residents of Louisiana are dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophic storm that has dumped as much as two feet of rain on their communities since Friday. The resulting flooding has killed 11 people, damaged at least 40,000 homes, and displaced thousands. Twenty parishes across the state have been declared major disaster areas by the federal government, with more expected to be added as damage to the region is assessed.
“This is an historic flooding incident in Louisiana,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are working around the clock to get every available resource into the hands of the people of our state. No one will be forgotten as we continue to assess the damage. I will continue to work with the federal government, as well as state, local, and federal partners, to make sure the resources we need are on the ground as soon as possible.”
As state and federal agencies mobilize to assist folks, here are some relief efforts to help out:
To make a $10 donation, text “LAFLOODS” to 90999, call 800-RED CROSS, or visit the Red Cross website.
“The current flooding in Louisiana is the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy,” Brad Kieserman, vice president for disaster services operations and logistics for the Red Cross, said in a statement on Wednesday. Along with providing temporary food and shelter to folks who are displaced, the American Red Cross has mobilized about 1,000 disaster volunteers to help with relief efforts across the region.
“The Red Cross is mounting a massive relief operation, which we anticipate will cost at least $30 million, and that number may grow as we learn more about the scope and magnitude of the devastation,” Kieserman said.
In a blog post, the Tennessee chapter of the organization explained that although people might want to donate canned food, used clothing, or shoes, those items “often must be cleaned, sorted, and repackaged, which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel that are needed for other aspects of our relief operation.”
Make monetary donations “to help with long-term recovery” by texting “LAFLOOD” to 313131 or by going to a donation page.
Louisiana chapters of the United Way also say they are willing to accept physical items to help people affected by the floods; those donations can be mailed to the organization’s offices or dropped off in person.
The Baton Rouge–based Capital Area United Way put a call out on its Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon asking for donations of “laundry detergent, tarps, buckets, mops, Shockwave or other products to kill mold, bug spray, school supplies and empty boxes or containers.” The New Orleans–area United Way of Southeast Louisiana posted on its website that it’s in need of donations of dozens of everyday items, including diapers, toiletries, school supplies, and pet supplies.
Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank, a New Orleans–based member of the Feeding America network, is accepting donations of perishable and nonperishable food items, as well as raising funds to buy food, water, and other supplies for people in need. The organization is holding a donation telethon on Wednesday with local television network WDSU. Call 504-679-0712 to make a donation through the telethon.
National Education Association
Hundreds of schools in the region have been damaged or destroyed by the flooding, leaving thousands of teachers and students affected. To help them out, on Monday the National Education Association announced that it had created the Louisiana Flood Relief Fund. The organization wrote on its website that donations will “support public school educators in Louisiana affected by the flooding, personally and at the schools where they work.”
The nonprofit education crowdfunding website has also set up a Louisiana Flood Relief fund and is asking for donations that will support the state’s teachers, classrooms, and students.
“In the coming weeks, we’ll help Louisiana teachers create classroom recovery projects for critical needs such as books, supplies, therapy resources, clothing, food, and classroom furniture,” the organization wrote on its website. “These teachers know best what their students need, and we can empower them to rebuild their classrooms and support their students.”