Mennonite Disaster Service seeks volunteers for Louisiana flood

Aug 29, 2016 by

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Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers have begun the arduous process of mucking out and cleaning up homes in the town of Central, La., resulting from the worst U.S. disaster since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

There is a need for more volunteers.

An unnamed storm, just as devastating as any named storm of its magnitude, dropped up to 34 inches of rain in 15 hours across south central Louisiana in mid-August, causing massive flooding in and around Baton Rouge and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

By Aug. 29, volunteers from MDS and other agencies were spreading out across the flood area, which stretches from New Iberia west of Baton Rouge, through Lafayette to Baton Rouge and then north and east to Central, Zachary and other towns.

Some 128,000 people have applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Thousands of businesses have been flooded.

At the end of August, MDS was focusing its work on Central and the surrounding communities.

Search-and-rescue efforts by first responders were huge, said Larry Stoner, MDS regional operations coordinator, after visiting the region during the week of Aug. 22.

“The amount of debris I saw along the streets and in talking to church folks here [showed that] the need is huge and the recovery effort will be long,” Stoner said. “People’s lives will be changed for years to come. Many businesses will not reopen.”

While there were volunteers in the area, Stoner said, for the most part neighbors helped neighbors clear out houses.

Many homes in the area do not have basements nor second floors. When homes were filled with 6 to 8 feet of water in some places, there were no options but to flee.

MDS has an immediate need for more volunteers to muck out and clean up, as well as project leaders to assist the homeowners in gaining access to volunteers and assistance.

“We are hopeful our Anabaptist brothers and sisters will step up and offer some time to help the folks in Louisiana,” said Kevin King, MDS executive director. “It is a long way from home for many of us, but MDS has lodging, food and showers and all the equipment needed for the job.

“MDS will be there for the long haul. But we could use more volunteers now and in the coming weeks.”

To volunteer in Louisiana, call MDS at 717-735-3536 or apply online at mds.mennonite.net/gulf-states-flooding-form.


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