BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank gave out more than 9 million meals to families in need last year. The Salvation Army provided shelter, social services, and disaster assistance for tens of thousands. Now, both charitable organizations are struggling in the wake of the flood.
The Food Bank took on around four feet of water, losing a million pounds of food and nearly all of its equipment, according to president and CEO Mike Manning.
It took a week to clear out contaminated food and gut the building. It will take several more weeks to wash, sanitize and dry the facility in order to meet food safety standards. The cleaning process alone, Manning said, will cost the Food Bank a million and a half dollars.
Manning is hopeful they'll be back in the warehouse within a month.
Millions more will be required to repair the Salvation Army's facility on Airline Highway, which housed a thrift store, warehouse, and a men's shelter. Floodwaters ruined all the donations on site along with group's response trucks.
Board member Tonja Miles said it is unclear how long it will take to make all the necessary repairs.
Amazingly, both facilities are still helping the community even as they work to get back on their feet. The Food Bank has two satellite locations to distribute food, one on Choctaw and one with the Department of Agriculture. Miles said the Salvation Army has helped 75,000 people during the flooding event alone.
"We're trying to help other people first," Miles said.
"The need doesn't stop, but the need has gotten so much greater because so many people have lost so much," Manning said.
However, both organizations are finding themselves in need of the community's help and donations to help them continue to help others. Today, WAFB is hosting a telethon to support the organizations called Raising Hope. From 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., anyone who wants to help can call 225-215-4777 and donate to help them rebuild.
"We need people in our community to rally behind us like we've been rallying behind them to get us up and running again so that we can continue doing the work that we do," Miles said.