Some Asheville-area groups and companies are providing assistance after parts of Louisiana received over 21 inches of rain in two days earlier this month. From cash donations to volunteering on the ground, here are a few ways that Asheville residents can participate in relief efforts for flood victims.
Flood relief benefit at the Double Crown
Maddy and Her Big Nasty Pals will be performing Friday, Aug. 26 at Double Crown at 375 Haywood Road as part of the Louisiana Flood Victim Relief. Show starts at 6 p.m.
Hearts With Hands
Hearts With Hands mobilized volunteers shortly after news of the flooding and is focusing on help for Eunice, La., a small town northwest of Lafayette.
“What was so unreal, when we ended up in Eunice, is we were escorted in by the U.S. Marshall Service and they had already distributed that entire tractor trailer [of our donations] in less than an hour,” recounts Hearts With Hands president Dr. Greg Lentz. The organization has set up a distribution center in collaboration with Central Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La., and is posting live updates from the region on their Facebook page. They plan to stay in the region throughout the next month.
Hearts With Hands is an Asheville-based humanitarian nonprofit that has provided disaster relief for 23 years. The organization is asking for donations of nonperishable food, baby items, hygiene kits, water and cleaning supplies, as well as cash donations. Donations can be brought to two drop-off locations: Trinity Baptist Church at 216 Shelburne Road in Asheville, and the Hearts With Hands warehouse at 850 Warren Wilson Road in Swannanoa. Donations can also be made through www.heartswithhands.org.
Walter Harrill, the co-owner of Imladris Farm in Fairview, will be taking water and food to affected areas on Aug. 27. Harrill is coordinating with the United Way and independent Louisiana shelters and distribution centers that have directly expressed a need for potable water. He has teamed up with California-based BCU Plastics, which has donated thousands of half-gallon potable water containers. For transport, Harrill has packed the water-filled containers in cardboard boxes donated by Custom Packaging in Arden.
After announcing his plan, Harrill says other businesses stepped up to contribute to the effort. “Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview donated a large quantity of beef jerky sticks,” he notes. To donate to his effort, go here.
All Hands Volunteers
For those who are able to travel to Louisiana in person, Massachusetts-based All Hands Volunteers is calling for volunteers to join Louisiana Flood Response, which is currently basing its efforts out of the New Covenant Church in Denham Springs, La. The organization is training volunteers to gut and clean damaged homes at no cost to homeowners, which saves them money and labor in the recovery process. Sherry Buresh, the organization’s director of U.S. Disaster Response, says 80 to 90 percent of homes in Denham Springs have been damaged — typically by 7-8 feet of floodwater. Vulnerable populations like the elderly, single mothers and those with disabilities have most frequently sought out assistance from All Hands Volunteers.
Buresh says the region still has a desperate need for volunteers willing to provide manual labor. “This isn’t just a normal flood, and I’m not so sure that the rest of the world realizes how many people have been impacted,” she says. “Every street has piles of debris almost as high as the houses, and you look at it and realize that [those piles] are people’s lives. Everything they’ve owned and worked for is laying on the curb and ready to be thrown away.”
Volunteers do not need to have prior construction experience, but must have a positive work ethic and be able to pay for travel to and from Louisiana. All Hands Volunteers provides basic housing, three meals on workdays, free training and personal protective equipment, and logistical support. Since the effort is being funded by donations, Buresh encourages those who are unable to travel to donate to the cause. To sign up to be a volunteer or to donate to Louisiana Flood Response, go to www.hands.org. The organization plans to continue working in the area through Oct. 15.