Doing Good Nationally: Louisiana Flooding Outreach

IMAGE: MAX BECHERER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
IMAGE: MAX BECHERER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

Here at Sandvik Publishing, home of Early Moments and Hooked on Phonics it is important to us to find ways to give back to our community. Our community could be defined by the people in the areas surrounding our office headquarters. In reality, we believe our community stretches as far as our customers do. We were reminded of that community in the past month, as we slowly started to hear from a very particular group of loyal customers who were reaching out to us for help…

Devastating Losses

Starting on August 11th of this year, major storms caused catastrophic flooding in parts of Louisiana. Due to massive flooding over the week following, one-third of the state’s parishes (almost 2 million people!) became official federal disaster areas. In Livingston Parish, the hardest hit, local officials estimate 75 percent of the homes were completely destroyed. To put this in perspective, Hurricane Katrina resulted in 70 percent of occupied units damaged (not all of which were destroyed).

This flooding is considered a “1,000 year” event, and many, if not most residents were not prepared to face the destruction that occurred in their neighborhoods.

A Lack of Awareness

Though the flooding was declared a major disaster on August 14th, 2016, the national media did not jump to cover the event to the extent they’ve covered other recent natural disasters. Some speculate this is because the storm that caused the floods did not have a name, making it less easy to “follow”, like Sandy or Katrina that have come before. Regardless of the lack of national coverage, stories slowly surfaced documenting the amazing power of the human spirit in the days following the flooding. All it takes is a quick Google search of the “Cajun Navy” to illustrate just how willing people are to help each other when times get tough.

As calls started to trickle in from our customers, we were reminded of the human impact of this disaster as they began to assess the damage to their homes and property, and tried to make plans for rebuilding.

One of our customers reached out to us to share her story. Elyse and her family live in an area that was hit with record flood levels beyond what anyone in the neighborhood could have ever imagined. The photos she shared were heartbreaking, particularly the images of her son’s overturned crib and crates of destroyed books and toys. Our heart truly goes out to her family, and we are beyond impressed by the positive attitude she still maintains, in the face of an uncertain future.

“Unfortunately, my family was not one of the exceptions to this flooding. We received 6 and a half feet of water in our home on Saturday, August 13th 2016. My husband, my son and myself lost every possession we owned, minus a small bag of clothes, within just a single day. Thankfully, our lives are what mattered most and those were spared. We are slowly rebuilding our life to come to some kind of “normal” again as a family.”

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Another kind woman reached out to us on behalf of her sister’s family. She described the situation in Louisiana as follows:

“Doesn’t seem we got much media attention so many people don’t even know about this disaster!…My home was spared but houses less than a mile away were not so fortunate. We’ve seen God move in miraculous ways so that’s always a blessing. South Louisiana is very family oriented but right now it’s everybody helping everybody. And it’s nice to see all the help come from near and far from total strangers. With so many affected there aren’t enough of us “dry” people to help all the “wet” people.”

Overall, we’ve been hearing from customers that the process of rebuilding will be challenging, if families even choose to tackle the impossible task. Many will relocate altogether after the catastrophic losses, uprooting families and routines to start fresh elsewhere. For families with young children, this can be particular distressing to little ones who thrive on routine and the comforts of the familiar.

What We’re Doing to Help

We have been thinking about what we can do to help those customers that reach out to us, and on a case-by-case basis we are helping families to replace some of the books and Hooked on Phonics materials that may have been destroyed in the flooding. We hope that with a little support from us, they will be able to keep reading to their children as they rebuild, bringing back important daily routines that kids love, like story time. Keeping little ones engaged in learning amidst stress and upheaval is a valiant effort and we want to do what we can to support our Louisiana families.

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We were particularly excited to provide books for Elyse’s family, as they’ve been loyal
Dr. Seuss and His Friends collectors for years, and her little one’s second birthday is approaching in October. We were thrilled to be able to send him a box of replacement books to brighten their celebration this year.

What You Can Do

We hope that sharing some of this information helps to spread awareness that the process of rebuilding has only just begun for the families of these parts of Louisiana. We will continue to support our community of customers, and we encourage you to think about what you might do to help, as well.  Please find some links below, recommended by our Louisiana customers as organizations that are truly effective on the ground.

Public schools in the area are still accepting donations to get students and teachers back in their regular classrooms as quickly as possible. Ascension Parish, Livingston Parish, and East Baton Rouge Parish schools are in the most need of donations:

Livingston Parish – DONATE SUPPLIES

Livingston Parish – DONATE FUNDS

Ascension Parish – DONATE FUNDS

East Baton Rouge Parish – DONATE FUNDS

 

And to donate to local organizations that will  get help in the hands of people that need it right now:

Baton Rouge Area Foundation

Live Oak United Methodist Church – a large distribution center for the Cajun Navy

Capital Area United Way

 

IMAGE: Red Cross by Marko Kokic
IMAGE: Red Cross by Marko Kokic

 

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