Long-Term Recovery Group activated for Hurricane Ida response ;Organizations combine efforts to provide home repair services

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

LAPLACE — After Hurricane Isaac struck in 2012, the director of Homeland Security recognized St. John Parish for having one of the best long-term recovery groups not only in the state, but in the nation.
The St. John the Baptist Parish Long-Term Recovery Group helped 1,260 uninsured and under-insured families recover over a two-year period after Isaac, bringing in more than 4,000 volunteers to assist with everything from roofing and sheetrock to total rebuilds. The Group received approximately $850,000 from various donors and corporations, and the estimated impact to the community exceeded $9 million.
Nearly a decade later, faced with more widespread devastation after Hurricane Ida, the Long-Term Recovery Group has reactivated its intake process to help more families rebuild their lives. Homeowners who are uninsured, underinsured or otherwise do not have the means to repair their homes are asked to call the St. John Volunteer Reception Center at 985-703-8411.
The Long-Term Recovery Group will obtain the individual’s name, address and phone number. The information is then turned over to Catholic Charities to begin the case management process.
Pastor Neil Bernard, chairman of the Long-Term Recovery Group, said a social worker will contact the family to find out what assistance was received from insurance and/or FEMA.
“Based on what the family has, the social worker will determine the need. They will bring that unmet need to the Long-Term Recovery Group, and we look at what resources we have to assist that family,” Bernard said. “We have disaster recovery groups that work with us and go into the homes to help do sheetrock, flooring, roofing and so forth. We take the resources we have to help purchase the materials that are needed.”
The Long-Term Recovery Group is a team effort made up of local business, government, faith-based organizations and non-faith-based volunteer groups who work together to serve the community.
“We pool our resources and relationships to assist those who are uninsured and underinsured to rebuild after the storm,” Bernard said. “After every disaster, there’s always that vulnerable population – especially the elderly, those with special needs and single parents – who may struggle with rebuilding and may not have the means without someone coming along to assist them.”
According to Bernard, the Long-Term Recovery Board has a construction coordinator, a communication coordinator, volunteer coordinator, a donation coordinator and an emotional/spiritual unmet needs coordinator.
Bi-weekly meetings have included input from St. John United Way, St. John Parish government, Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, FEMA volunteer liaisons and Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser’s Office. Marathon, Cargill, RTC and Dupont are among the representatives of the local business community working in tandem with a host of rebuild groups, including but not limited to All Hands and Hearts, United Methodist Committee on Relief and Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.
Local churches are also an integral part of the St. John Long-Term Recovery Group. Pastor Shane Newton with First Baptist Church oversees the emotional and spiritual unmet needs committee.
“Many people’s needs go beyond their physical home. We know these disasters can be traumatic, and people may need counseling,” Bernard said.
For more information, please call the Volunteer Reception Center at 985-703-8411.