Inside the effort to win Congressional support for $500 million in flood recovery aid
#1) Wake up in cold sweat realizing what it's going to mean that 80% of your community's flooded homes don’t have flood insurance.
#2) Feel sweat get colder with realization that only path forward is major bi-partisan cooperation by Congress. In September. In the middle of Trump v. Clinton.
#3) Make 250 phone calls. Learn your friends in low places have some friends in high places.
#4) Marvel that members of Congress are not NEARLY as ideological and partisan as they act most of the time. Watch a deal come together where everyone wins.
#5) Watch that deal unravel into smoldering shards and ash. Change your mind on marveling from #4.
#6) Repeat steps #2 to 5.
#7) Resist INSANE temptation to let yourself get pitted against the people of Flint, Mich and their need for lead-free drinking water! (Louisiana supports Flint!!)
#8) Go to the sewer to get some fresh air, mumbling lines from Yates, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”
#9) Learn what solidarity means, as people across the country work their own Reps and Senators to benefit people they've never met.
#10) EXHALE, as the Senate votes for you (72 - 26) and the House votes with you (342 - 85). Feel grateful that, sometimes, the center does still hold.
Thank you, America!
Read the official version from Politico here.
TBR and its sister organizations across the country worked hard with Governor Edwards and the Louisiana Congressional Delegation to win federal funding for flood recovery from the 2016 flood.
The video was created to spread awareness nationally.
So far, Congress has allocated $1.8 billion for the recovery.
Interested applications may apply at: togetherbr.nationbuilder.com/jobs
Jobs pay $15 per hour for house-gutting and mold-remediation, starting with highest priority families -- elderly, disabled and families with children, especially those still living in mold-infected homes
Program funded with support from BRAF, individual donors.
Donations to expand the program may be made here.
A week after the Great Flood, TBR leaders were grappling with how to expand capacity to meet the daunting scale of the devastation of their community, when we got an email with a “crazy idea” from a 70-year old woman in Cape Cod named Betsy Smith, who had been directed to the organization by the local NPR affiliate.
"Rather than just donate money,” Ms. Smith wrote in her email, “I would like to donate $120 to pay an unemployed person $15/hour for an 8-hour day's work helping with the clean-up effort. This would have a multiple effect--it would supply labor for the clean-up, it would put money into the economy in the form of wages for someone who is currently unemployed, and it might encourage others to give to a specified, dedicated fund."
Ten days later, Ms. Smith's "crazy idea" is becoming a reality.
TBR was out in force Saturday, with teams spread out across the metro area helping people clear and gut their homes. We worked at 16 homes in zip codes 70805, 70807, 70811, 70812, 70814 and 70815!
Sign up here to volunteer -- clearing homes, making phone calls, doing data entry.
We've been getting quite a few individual donations lately, far more than ever before. We're honored by that, and we want people to know what we're doing with the resources they're entrusting to us. So here's a summary of what TBR has been doing on the recovery this last week.
#1) We have more than 1300 responses on the flood damage survey 5 days after launching it at LAfloodsurvey.com. This gives us a way to understand what is happening with people who have been displaced, especially the 95% of people who are *not* in shelters, but about which next to nothing was known prior to the survey.
#2) Last week, we called about 700 people who responded to the survey, to check in with them, see if there were any urgent mental health or other referalls and discuss people's needs. 3 goals here: a) to meet a few of those needs directly, b) to have people's lived experience inform the recovery and the policy that are coming and c) (perhaps most of all) to simply make human contact with people who are isolated and often in quite serious distress.
3) We've placed Amazon orders for 477 people for immediate needs, with about 365 or so additional requests verified and legitimated. We're funding that entirely from online donations, and it will continue if more contributions continue to come in.
4) From Thursday's calls, we realized that people's top priority was clean out homes before the mold takes over. With 18 hours of lead time, we organized our first volunteer house-gutting operation, which we called "Gut Check Saturday," which happened this morning. About 160 TBR volunteers took part, partnering with about 200 flood-damaged homeowners (with close to double that signing up online).
We formed volunteer teams, which deployed to around 40 homes. The people who didn't get volunteers today were put on a list we've sent to a non-profit entity that is contracting with professional contracting services for free gutting starting next week.
5) We've created an online list of recovery resources here. If there are other resources or info that's important and reliable that ought to be there, please let us know in the comments and we'll add it.
6) Finally, we've created a one-page Volunteer Guide for house clearing and gutting, which covers everything people need to know. That can be downloaded at here.
Thank you for your belief in what we're doing. You can donate here to allow us to do more of it.
Together Baton Rouge launched a survey yesterday at LAfloodsurvey.com to assess people's flood damage and immediate needs.
The responses we've received have been overwhelming, including major immediate needs for clothes, underwear/ bras, bottles, food, bedding/blow-up mattresses, medicine, water, etc.
One important stat -- 98% of people who responded to the survey are *not* staying in shelters. They're on couches and floors of friends or family, in hotels. In other words, they're dispersed and not receiving many of the resources that are being donated, which (appropriately) are going mostly to shelters.
We've determined that the fastest, most effective way to meet these immediate needs is also the most simple -- to put in Amazon Prime orders for basic necessities, which will be delivered directly to people the next day. (We have people's evacuated addresses from the survey.)
We need three things in the immediate future to make this work. Any help or suggestions you may have around these would be much appreciated.
#1) Donations: You can make donations to this effort at https://togetherbr.nationbuilder.com/donate.
We started putting in Amazon orders today. We'll keep at it until we run out of money.
Need #2) Volunteers at the TBR office this week to call and follow-up with people who responded to the survey
The link to the survey is LAfloodsurvey.com. If you haven't already, please send that link to everyone you know with damage, especially people who have immediate needs.
People don't have to live in Baton Rouge to respond. They can live anywhere in Louisiana. Amazon delivers.
If you know of funders or other resources to support this effort, we're interested. Please let us know.
Here are a few samples responses so you get a sense of the scale of what we're facing:
Comments: I am 73 years old and this has taken a mental and physical effect . I have 1 kidney...blind in 1 eye...heart issues...I am literally HOMELESS....PLEASE HELP ME...I ALSO LOST MY JOB...AND JOB BUILDING WAS DESTROYED.
Immediate needs: Clothes size ...Women 14, Shoes. Size 5.5, Diabetes machine, Diabetic strips, Diabetic needles, Diabetic pin, All furniture and appliances (lost everything in home)
Comments: Please Help me with assistance... God Bless Us All. FEEL SO ALONE THROUGH THIS DISASTER, I KNOW I HAVE GOD BUT ITS SO HARD ALONE... NO FAMILY TO HELP ME AND REALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, CAN'T STOP CRYING AND STAY PRAYING.
Immediate needs: Need assistance with food, dogfood, money for bills &; household items...
Take survey at LAfloodsurvey.com
To donate to support the recovery, click here
Together Baton Rouge has launched a "flood damage survey," to assess immediate needs in the wake of the 2016 floods and inform longer-term policy responses at the federal, state and local governmental levels.
The survey includes questions on the scale and location of each respondents' damage, whether they have flood insurance, flood victims' pressing needs, medical and mental health needs, and others.
The survey takes about 6 minutes to complete.
The survey began as an effort to assess the needs of Together BR's membership, but it has expanded into a far broader project assessing flood-related damages faced by all residents.
Please share the flood damage survey with anyone you know with flood damage to a home, car, business or other property.
Thousands of people in our community have decided to wear “Together Baton Rouge” pins for the next month, as a small symbol of our commitment to face this time of crisis TOGETHER as a community.
The idea started when General Russel Honoré appeared on CNN and MSNBC wearing his pin.
To order Together BR pins or car magnets, CLICK HERE.