In August 2016 my hometown of Gonzales, LA and a series of other cities/towns across south Louisiana were devastated with 48 hours of torrential rain causing a severe 1000 Year Flood.
I returned from a vacation out of the country to find almost everyone I know – friends, family and acquaintances strongly affected. Many of them had to be emergency rescued, and also lost their homes, cars, and all of their possessions. This combined with the flooding and loss of schools, churches and local businesses had made this a monumental disaster.
The challenge with this disaster is more than just the fact that as we move into winter and the holidays these families still desperately need your help, but that due to the high drama of the upcoming election, this huge disaster has received very little national press to raise awareness.
Some Flood Facts:
* 7 trillion gallons of water fell on Louisiana, 3 times more rain than fell during Hurricane Katrina.
* Over 100,000 homes were destroyed, resulting in many families being homeless for months. Even when rebuilding starts, there are constant delays due to insurance, FEMA, insufficient supplies & workers, etc.
* Over 30,000 emergency rescues were performed, most of them by the Cajun Navy – a citizen army formed during the disaster managed by a Facebook page since phones were not working. It’s a miracle that only 13 people died during the disaster.
* At the peak of the flooding over 11,000 people were in shelters. A month after the flooding, all of the shelters shut down leaving many homeless as those who had places to go had already moved in to them. At the same time FEMA workers also flooded the city taking any available hotel rooms. Many Louisiana residents are currently living in travel trailers and even tents in their blighted neighborhoods while they try to rebuild their devastated homes.
* Many of the hardest hit areas were not in flood zones, so the residents did not have flood insurance.
I’ve been working with a local non profit called Launch Louisiana and have personally raised about $100,000 in resources and cash donations from generous individuals and companies like Shaklee, Bug Bam and more, but the need is still great.
If you’d like to do something to help, we’ve partnered with other non profits to offer one collaborative campaign that allows you to choose a means of support that works for you.
You can donate cash, buy much needed items for struggling families and volunteer workers, shop with a purpose to support the cause, donate used items like coats/jackets for the upcoming winter weather, or even VOLUNTEER to come and help in person.
If you’re like me and once you’ve seen need, you have to help, please check out the www.CajunSantaChristmas.com campaign to find your way to help. If you can help connect me to corporate resources, please feel free to CONTACT ME directly.
My heart is in Louisiana, and it hurts for the families there. If you can help, please do. This holiday season let’s focus on what matters – giving to those in need.
Sincerely, Shanna Forrestall, LA Film Resources