Flood Relief: Resources and Best Practices

flood shelterby William Lee

It’s been nearly three weeks since a historic rainstorm descended on southern Louisiana, releasing enough water in its days-long hover to fill Lake Pontchartrain—four times. The ensuing flooding stranded thousands of Louisianans and inundated tens of thousands of vehicles, homes and businesses, sparking a crisis.

Many New Orleanians are anxious to know the best way to help our neighbors in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and dozens of other communities hit hard by the flooding.

Importantly, there is nothing insincere or ineffectual about a cash donation. In fact, cash is the most efficient method of donating, because it provides organizations with the flexibility to direct dollars to the most-needed resources.

If donating items rather than cash, make sure to find out what the organization you intend to donate to is really in need of. At this time, used clothing is not needed, nor is it being accepted by any flood relief organization.

And of course, donate through a trusted organization to ensure your resources make an impact. American Red Cross of Southeast Louisiana, Greater New Orleans Foundation, Louisiana SPCA, Second Harvest Food Bank (partnering with Rouses Market), and United Way of Southeast Louisiana are among a host of quality organizations that could put your donation to work.

If you plan on volunteering, be sure to partner with one of the many non-profits spearheading relief efforts. Make sure the site is safe to work in and always wear proper safety gear. Be patient—media attention may be dwindling, but the recovery process has only just begun. New efforts are still being launched, including three new business recovery centers set to open Friday in affected communities.

Finally, in light of the disaster, perhaps it’s time to reexamine how well New Orleans is prepared to handle the next disruptive event, and consider steps we can take to protect it. As the recently updated New Orleans Business Continuity Guide notes, “despite the city’s recent disasters, New Orleans businesses are no better prepared on average than small businesses nationally.”