August 22, 2016

Relief Funds for Louisiana Floods Trickling In

News Source: Philanthropy News Digest

A week after torrential rains and severe flooding in southeastern Louisiana claimed at least thirteen lives, forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, and damaged more than a hundred thousand homes, philanthropic, corporate, and government funding for relief efforts is trickling in.

According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, relief organizations like the Salvation Army, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, and many churches that are part of the local disaster recovery infrastructure have been hit hard by the flooding. In response to what the American Red Cross is calling the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy, CDP has partnered with America's Charities to launch a Disaster Recovery Fund – Louisiana Floods and has activated its Gulf Coast Resilience and Innovation Fund, which will distribute funds donated for mid- and long-term recovery efforts. In addition, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the Northshore Community Foundation have launched relief funds of their own.

Corporate support for relief efforts in the region include commitments totaling $1.5 million from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation; a pledge of $700,00 from the Home Depot Foundation, including $200,000 to be shared by Team Rubicon and Operation Blessing International and $500,000 as part of an earlier donation to the Red Cross; and a pledge of $500,000 from Exxon Mobil to be shared by the Red Cross and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

A number of celebrities also have announced donations, including $1 million from Taylor Swift and an undisclosed amount from Lady Gaga.

While Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency and President Obama signed a disaster declaration releasing federal funds two weekends ago, government aid is expected to be modest, the Wall Street Journal reports. State officials worry that the Federal Emergency Management Agency's maximum award of $33,000 for individuals could leave people who lack flood insurance and whose properties sustained major damage with significant out-of-pocket costs. FEMA claims are expected to top a hundred thousand. According to the Louisiana Department of Insurance, as of July 2015, 21 percent of homeowners statewide had flood insurance, while only 12 percent of the roughly 138,000 homes in Baton Rouge were covered.

"[P]rivate philanthropy — community foundations, corporate foundations, small family foundations, large family foundations, and institutional foundations — absolutely must play a part in the recovery and reconstruction process," said Center for Disaster Philanthropy vice president Regine A. Webster  in a blog post. "Each of these organizations must use their philanthropic a manner that promotes effective long-term recovery."

Regine A. Webster. "Floods Do Not Flatter." Center for Disaster Philanthropy Blog Post 08/20/2016."Walmart and the Walmart Foundation Announce Additional $1 Million Towards Louisiana Flood Relief Efforts." Walmart Press Release 08/19/2016."ExxonMobil Contributes $500,000 to Flood Relief in Louisiana." ExxonMobil Press Release 08/19/2016."America's Charities and Center for Disaster Philanthropy Launch New Disaster Recovery Fund Supporting Louisiana." America's Charities and Center for Disaster Philanthropy Press Release 08/18/2016."The Home Depot Foundation Commits $700,000, Supplies and Volunteer Assistance to Gulf Flood Relief Efforts." Home Depot Foundation Press Release 08/17/2016."Lady Gaga Donating to Louisiana Flood Relief." Associated Press 08/17/2016.Mesfin Fekadu. "Taylor Swift Donating $1 Million to Louisiana." Associated Press 08/16/2016.