Catholic Charities Provides Help for Victims After Flood

by Lucy Medvec

When excessive rainfall created flooding this spring throughout North Louisiana, thousands of residents across the state suffered property damage and loss.  In the 16 parishes that encompass the Diocese of Shreveport, 14 were declared disaster areas by the federal government. National organizations such as FEMA and the American Red Cross were quick to arrive after the floods to provide immediate help to displaced victims and worked with local churches, volunteers and nonprofits to help those who were affected by the flooding.

For Jean Dresley, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, this was the second time in nine months that she was deeply involved in the flood relief efforts. Dresley served as the co-chairman of VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) both during the June 2015 and March 2016 floods. VOAD coordinated all volunteer and relief efforts for the area, working with both national and local relief organizations. This experience gave her the knowledge of how to provide assistance to flood victims not only in the immediate aftermath, but in the many months following floods. “With the recent flooding, thousands of people have lost or sustained damage to their homes and will have to make living arrangements to carry them through the rebuilding period,” said Dresley. “It is during the long term period that organizations such as Catholic Charities of North Louisiana can provide vital assistance to those who need it most.”

Of all the parishes that were affected in the diocese, Ouachita was one that was hit the hardest.  “We are working through our Catholic Charities satellite office in Monroe and the local VOAD organization to set up a Long Term Recovery Group to provide assistance to residents who will face many challenges in the coming months,” said Dresley. “We will be able to provide resources for many people who will need support once their initial assistance from FEMA has been depleted.”

Catholic Charities can also provide support to local immigrants who may not qualify for federal assistance. In March when the Mexican Consulate came to Shreveport, Catholic Charities was there working with the Hispanic community providing help for those who had not received funds.

“Our area has been hit hard with the March floods and we need to be able to help those in our communities get back on their feet and into their homes,” Dresley emphasized.

Catholic Charities Disaster Relief

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana accepts donations that will be used exclusively for those who have been affected by the recent floods.  Donations can be made online at www.ccnla.org, or by sending a check to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, 331 E. 71st Street, Shreveport, LA 71101 (please note that your donation is for Disaster Relief).

If you are interested in volunteering in ongoing community clean-up efforts, please visit www.lincc.us for volunteer opportunities.

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