If you live in the South, then you know thunderstorms and occasional downpours are part of the summer. And oftentimes, they are are a much-welcome reprieve from the sweltering heat.
But on August 11, that sweet reprieve turned into a nightmare for the residents of southeastern Louisiana.
For three days, storms pounded the area with more than 25 inches of rain — much more than the low-lying areas around Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and New Orleans could handle.
In what the American Red Cross calls the worst natural disaster since 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, at least 40,000 homes have been destroyed, along with an equally devastating number of businesses and other community structures.
What’s being done right now?
In the week following the storm, relief organizations have set up shop in Louisiana, and FEMA has started the work of placing residents into hotels, mobile homes or back into their homes by expediting the repair process.
In addition to assistance from government entities and non-profits, Louisianians have received an outpouring of support from everyday people who want to help.
Louisiana Realtors CEO Norman Morris says this kind of help — especially from the real estate community — has made the flood’s aftermath much easier to deal with.
“The overwhelming support that we’ve received from state associations of Realtors and local associations of Realtors, individual brokerages, companies from all over the country, affiliates of the industry, as well as the National Association of Realtors (NAR), has just been truly remarkable,” said Morris.
Immediately after the storm, Morris says the Louisiana Realtors Association went to work by dispersing gift cards that could be used for clothes, toiletries and other items to local associations impacted by the storm.
“Some people basically walked away from their homes with just the clothes on their back — and maybe their cell phone, their wallet and their purses,” he says.
Beyond coordinating state and local disaster relief, Louisiana Realtors is working with NAR to help members by providing up to $1,000 for mortgage payments.
Although the road to recovery has already begun, Morris says the people of Louisiana still need help covering everyday needs.
He suggests that Realtors, agents, brokerages and companies who’d like to lend a helping hand send:
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Toiletries, such as body soap, shampoo, and wet wipes
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable food items
“They just need those things that you rely on every day that you take for granted sometimes, but when you don’t have them, it’s truly difficult,” he said.
Coordinate with local associations
Morris says the easiest way to get items to those in need is by coordinating with local associations by calling or going to their website for specific donation needs and protocols.
The local associations most impacted by the storm are:
- The Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors
- Realtor Association of Acadiana
- Northshore Area Board of Realtors
- New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors
How Louisiana Realtors is pitching in
In addition to providing basic needs, Louisiana Realtors is helping homeowners and Realtors navigate the road ahead through a Disaster Resources and relief fund page, and an upcoming webinar set to take place on Sept. 1.
The two-hour webinar will feature Realtors, contractors, insurance professionals and appraisers who will provide the step-by-step process for filing insurance claims, applying for FEMA assistance, choosing the right contractor for home restoration, etc.
Morris says the recovery process is far from over, but the people and Realtors of Louisiana are up to the task of rebuilding their homes and their lives.
“Everyone is trying to stay positive and not complain. Everyone is just doing what it takes to help each other out, to get everyone back on their feet again,” he says.
“It’s going to be a long process, but the great people of the state are very resilient.”