Post-Isaac recovery groups honored at luncheon

Published 3:30 pm Saturday, April 12, 2014

By Monique Roth


LAPLACE – Many residents, businesses, churches and governmental agencies of St. John the Baptist Parish worked tirelessly in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. That work has continued well into 2014, and the St. John the Baptist Parish Long Term Recovery Group held a Donor Appreciation Lunch on March 20 to thank several people and businesses for their help in rebuilding efforts.

The LTRG was created to address the needs of homeowners in St. John Parish who were either uninsured or underinsured and sustained damage in the fall of 2012 from Hurricane Isaac. Since the storm, more than 1,200 families have been helped, and a $6,819,509.73 impact has been made on the community in just a year and a half.

During the storm, search and rescue efforts lasted for 48 hours with more than 6,000 residents rescued from flooded areas and 3,900 residents housed in shelters immediately after the storm. More than 7,000 homes in St. John Parish sustained damaged from the storm.

St. John Parish Presi dent Natalie Robottom said the group was created to work in collaboration with local government to meet all of the residents’ needs, including social, emotional and spiritual needs.

Robottom said the LTRG led parish recovery efforts by securing volunteers, managing day-to-day efforts and overseeing certain financial matters.

Mark Riley, deputy director at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Pre paredness, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency now uses St. John Parish’s model of a disaster recovery group across the country as an example of how efforts should be coordinated and that the creation of the group has built resiliency in the community should another storm ever affect the parish.

“I haven’t seen anybody do it better than you guys,” Riley said.

LTRG Chairman Neil Bernard said the group has coordinated 1,261 total requests from homeowners for assistance and 4,125 volunteers worked 185,041 hours, with a total volunteer labor cost donated estimated at more than $5 million.

Donations of appliances and other household goods totaled more than $200,000, Bernard reported.

“Thank you for collaborating with us in making an impact on our community,” said Bernard.

LTRG communica  tions representative Baileigh Rebowe opened the lunch by thanking donors for their vital role in the recovery of Hurricane Isaac.

“It is through your generosity that thousands were able to return to their homes and regain hope after a terrible disaster left them hopeless,” said Rebowe.

Sen. Gary Smith and representatives from Evonik, Marathon Petroleum, United Way, City Impact, ED White & Associates, Home Depot, Entergy, Valero, Arcelor Mittal, Motiva and Schneider International were all honored at the event, which was catered by Avis’ Kitchen. Located at 2003 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace, Avis’ Kitchen is a new restaurant that is open for both lunch and dinner.

Serving on the LTRG board is Neil Bernard, chairman; Mary Chivis, vice chairman; John Olynick, secretary/treasurer; Baileigh Rebowe, communications; Althea Bordelon, Volunteer Reception Center; Mark Brinkman, donations; Donald August, emotional and spiritual needs; Sherry Rhodes, case management; Daryl Ready, construction; and Dana Millioto, parish liaison.