Two weeks ago, Southeast Louisiana was hit with unprecedented flooding that killed thirteen and left tens of thousands without homes. In response to the flooding and subsequent displacement, several companies have taken action to support Louisiana residents in need. Here’s how they’ve set out to help:
For those whose homes were destroyed or badly damaged, immediate shelter was needed. While organizations like the Red Cross have provided shelter to more than 10,000, which is incredibly helpful, these shelters are often crowded and temporary. In an effort to provide other options to those who were displaced, Airbnb activated their “Disaster Response Tool,” originally developed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Through the tool, the company emailed everyone with a space listed in nearby areas to request that they offer their listings for free to those in need of shelter. As of earlier this week, over 250 Airbnb hosts had offered up their spaces for free.
In the week following the floods, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation provided cash and in-kind donations of $500,000 to organizations focused on relief efforts. Donations supported organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, who are working with local and state officials to coordinate their relief efforts in affected areas. As part of the same donation, Walmart sent truckloads of water to shelters in the affected areas.
In the days following the flooding, mobile company AT&T responded in several ways: First, it gave people the opportunity to donate $10 to flood relief efforts by texting “RELIEF” to 80077. All funds collected go directly to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Louisiana Flood Relief Fund. The $10 donation is added to customers’ bills, but text message fees do not apply. The company also announced that it would not charge those in affected areas for data overages. In the hours and days following the flooding, many of those in a state of emergency went over their allotted data plans in an attempt to contact loved ones, find shelter, and meet their immediate needs. AT&T’s overage forgiveness will prevent them from having to pay fees for their usage. Some also experienced outages as a result of the flooding, and did not have cell phone service. For them, AT&T is providing a credit worth 50 percent off of the cost of their monthly service. Even further, the company donated an additional $100,000 to relief efforts, half of which will go to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Louisiana Flood Relief Fund, and half of which will go to DonorsChoose.org, to help restore K-12 schools impacted by the floods.
When natural disasters hit, costly damages often have long-term, debilitating affects. Upwards of 40,000 homes were affected as a result of the floods in Louisiana, and many of those whose homes remained intact experienced extensive damage to their belongings. Because the floods occurred in areas that were not considered to be in “flood plains,” many residents whose homes and possessions were damaged did not have flood insurance. In order to alleviate some financial stress, Fannie Mae has made a great effort to remind those affected of their options around mortgage assistance. For single-family mortgages, for example, “servicers have the ability to grant an initial period of forbearance to any borrower they believe has been affected by this natural disaster,” temporarily suspending or reducing their mortgage payments for up to 90 days. The company has also authorized servicers to hold off on foreclosure sales and other legal proceedings around mortgage payments. While these elements were included in their guidelines prior to the flooding, we think it’s noteworthy that Fannie Mae has been thoughtful about how they can relieve further stress and disruption in the lives of those affected by natural disasters.
Small businesses from all over the country have responded to the needs of those affected. For example:
- Cloud’s Meats, a small meat processing company based out of Missouri, sent more than 2,000 beef snacks to the hardest hit areas in Baton Rouge. Southern Uniform, a nearby uniform and equipment company, paid for shipping.
- Off the Hook Fish House in Ocean Springs, MI, has been collecting supplies from its patrons to send to Louisiana since the days following the flood.
- Wallace Resources, a Mississippi-based firm, organized over 250 volunteers to clean up affected businesses in the Baton Rouge area.
We are continuously amazed by the ways in which companies use their products and services for good, particularly in times of emergency.
Do you know of a company that has chosen to do so, whether in response to the Louisiana floods or otherwise? Let us know about them, so we can share their stories with the rest of our community:
If you’re looking for a way to help out in Louisiana yourself, here are some great options.