Baton Rouge--Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge will be able to help up to 400 additional families in south central Louisiana rebuild their homes and lives disrupted by the floodwaters of Hurricane Isaac.
The agency was selected as the Hurricane Isaac disaster case management provider for area residents through a contract administered by Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO) and The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and funded by FEMA.
Services delivered through the FEMA-funded contract are set to begin April 15. The agency service area includes West Feliciana, East Feliciana, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Iberville, Ascension, Assumption, West Baton Rouge, Point Coupee, Tangipahoa, Allen, Morehouse, and St. Martin parishes. Other agencies serve St. John, St. James, St. Charles, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Washington, St. Tammany, Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary parishes.
Anyone who was impacted by Hurricane Isaac, resided in one of 26 parishes (above) on August 28 and 29, 2012, and can demonstrate they have unmet needs may be eligible for disaster case management. The program is not designed to provide direct aide, but will help link families to available services and resources, such as long-term sustainable housing, employment, furniture, appliances and counseling.
Individuals and families interested in case management services can call 1-866-891-2210 for more information.
“CCDBR is known nationwide as experts in disaster case management. Last year we sent staff to New Jersey and Colorado Springs to respond to Sandy and wildfires in Colorado,” said David Aguillard, Executive Director. “We’re now focusing on our community and have expanded our case management team by bringing back former staff and others with specialized disaster case management experience.”
So far, CCDBR disaster case managers have worked intensively with 97 households, assessing their disaster-related needs, working up a recovery plan and offering assistance or referrals for housing, repair costs, employment, counseling and more. With additional staffing afforded by the contract, CCDBR’s caseload is expected to increase to at least 400 by June of this year.
“This contract opens the door to recovery for many more people in addition to those helped by the agency with immediate donations that were beneficial for the short term,” said David Aguillard, CCDBR Executive Director. “Despite the generosity of this community after Isaac, donations were down compared to past disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav. This new initiative will enable the agency to help families through the often long and arduous task of rebuilding their homes and lives.“
To date, the agency has received funding from Capital Area United Way, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, ExxonMobil, The Mosaic Company, Catholic Charities USA and individual donors. Aguillard says the agency will now be able to help fund unmet needs not covered by the grant, like repair costs, housing expenses and the like.
While Louisiana roads were still underwater, CCDBR staff began providing relief to about 1,500 residents in the hardest hit areas of Tangipahoa, Livingston, Ascension and St James parishes. About 100 volunteers helped distribute food, water and cleaning supplies, some even venturing into neighborhoods with 2 feet of water surrounding homes. Others provided assistance in shelters and helped with clean-up efforts. (See attached photos. Larger images available.)
After that initial response phase, CCDBR positioned case managers in the disaster recovery centers, offering resources to 150 households as they applied for FEMA assistance.
“Our expertise comes into play after the disaster has disappeared from the news,” said Aguillard. After Hurricane Katrina, CCDBR became the lead case management agency serving thousands of familiues for the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps (LFRC) and Katrina Aid Today programs, and after Hurricane Gustav, the agency selected by FEMA to pilot a new program.
“CCDBR staff has been called on time and again to help with disasters all over the country,” said Aguillard. “Whether tornado, wildfires, hurricane or even tsunami, community and victims needs are all the same after disaster. We feel very fortunate to offer our expertise to help them recover.”
Aguillard added that just last week, several case managers returned from New Jersey where they have worked with Hurricane Sandy recovery.