Supporting Relief and Recovery from Hurricane Katrina
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Greater New Orleans Foundation
Hurricane Katrina struck the southeastern coast of Louisiana early on the morning of August 29 with winds exceeding 145 miles per hour. The thoughts of Synergos' staff and board are with all of the people whose lives have been affected by the hurricane.
Though Synergos does not have any programs directed at recovery and relief from the disaster, we have been looking for a means to support the families and community in need in the region. One opportunity comes from our colleagues at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation).
When most citizens of Baton Rouge were waiting the storm out in their homes, BRAF was putting in place plans to deal with the impending tragedy. BRAF has teamed up with the Greater New Orleans Foundation in responding to the hurricane and they are even now sharing offices.
As you can imagine, they are facing enormous challenges in this work. John Davies, the head of the BRAF, sent us a note saying:
"Things are grim here. Baton Rouge is estimated to double in population from the influx of refugees. We have already added 150,000 people. That will be calamitous, but we will try to mitigate the immense problems that explosive growth suggests. Many issues, like the lack of utilities in Baton Rouge, will increase the level of the challenge facing us.
Having said all that, I feel privileged to be in a position to shape our state's response. Focus and purpose are a good thing."
If you are looking for an effective vehicle to help people in the region re-build their lives, please consider helping through the Foundations for Recovery effort. There are two funds designated to benefit people impacted by Hurricane Katrina:
- The Hurricane Katrina Displaced Residents Fund will benefit those individuals evacuated to Baton Rouge from the hurricane impacted areas in Greater New Orleans, who are now unable to return for what maybe an extended period. Early official estimates suggest that as many as 500,000 individuals may be required to remain in the Baton Rouge area for up to six months, and they will face numerous challenges related to housing, food, education, healthcare and basic survival necessities. This fund will support those entities and programs in the area that endeavor to meet these critical needs, as well as address the impact this influx of residents will have on our community.
- The Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Recovery Fund will focus on the rebuilding of infrastructure to provide basic human services to residents of these devastated areas. The foundations will coordinate closely with federal, state and local officials in an attempt to provide resources to programs and efforts that positively and immediately impact the quality of life of these individuals, and contribute to the overall rebuilding of critical service delivery mechanisms in the Greater New Orleans area.
Both of these initiatives build upon the years of experience the foundations have in building partnerships with philanthropists, nonprofit organizations and other community leaders in Louisiana. They have also called in outside expertise, such as from the International Rescue Committee, which specializes in resettlement and managing resources in major disasters.
As you can imagine, things have moved quickly. On Friday, September 9, BRAF issued its first grants, totaling almost $670,000, to organizations and churches assisting those affected by the hurricane.
They have also been privy to great acts of kindness. One of the most amazing was when a gentleman contacted BRAF and offered the use of his jet and two helicopters to anyone that might need them. They helped connect him first with Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge to airlift twenty-nine babies to Houston for on-going care, and then with a group of expectant mothers stranded in one of the New Orleans hospitals. This is just one story; there are many, many more.
But we also know more help is needed.
Please visit www.foundationsforrecovery.org to learn what you can do. Giving online is easy and is 100% deductible from US taxes. Donations by check should be made out to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and sent to 402 North Fourth Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802. You can designate the fund noted on the memo line. If you do give, please let us know. Thank you.
Written September 14, 2005