September 23, 2020

A devastated Louisiana desperate for volunteers

By Nicole DeStefano
Nation & World Editor

The disastrous flood affecting Louisiana has become the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, according to CNN. The news outlet reported that about 6.9 trillion gallons of rain flooded Louisiana, resulting in 13 deaths and damage to more than 60,000 homes between Monday, Aug. 8, and Sunday, Aug. 14. Despite these numbers, Louisiana has received only a small fraction of the attention that was given to Superstorm Sandy.

“Thousands of people in Louisiana have lost everything they own and need our help now,” said Brad Kieserman, the American Red Cross’s vice president of Disaster Services Operations and Logistics, according to a press release.

In response to the crisis, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited the flood-stricken areas on Thursday, Aug. 9. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and President Barack Obama also visited the Baton Rouge, La., area. However, Obama was criticized for not cutting his summer vacation at Martha’s Vineyard short to visit sooner, as he arrived on Tuesday, Aug. 23.

While the Red Cross estimated the storm’s aftermath would cost at least $30 million, more than $132 million has already been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for home repairs and disaster response aid.
With such devastating damage, the state is desperate for volunteers.

“The more volunteers that come in, the quicker we can get people taken care of,” said Sherry Buresh, director of U.S. Disaster Response for All Hands Volunteers, according to USA Today.

Buresh, Obama and others are not only looking for volunteers to help with the extended effort to rebuild the communities, but are also asking for Americans to donate and help fund recovery efforts.

“Federal assistance alone is not going to be enough to make people’s lives whole again, so I’m asking every American to do what you can to help get families and businesses back on their feet,’’ Obama said during a press conference in Louisiana on Tuesday, Aug. 23.

The likeliness of a flood this severe in the Baton Rouge area is just once every 500 years, according to CNN. Despite the extreme damage that resulted from the rare storm, Craig Fugate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, expressed concerns that Americans might not realize how necessary it is to help flood victims.

“People are kind of, like, tuned out because of, I think, everything from the elections to the Olympics,’’ Fugate said, according to USA Today. “I don’t think people across the nation realize how big or how bad this is or how much help the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Catholic Charities — just a whole bunch of volunteer organizations that are down here — are going to need.”
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