BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There are still many people displaced because of the historic August floods, and it could be months before things get back to normal.
Some experts are calling the flooding a "500-year event," and others are even saying it's more like a "1,000-year event."
Because of the rarity of an event such as this, many homeowners did not have flood insurance. Or if they did, they did not have insurance to cover the contents of their home. This is the case with several members of our own WAFB work family.
To that end, many families are struggling to come up with funds needed to refurnish their homes. A number of families have appealed to WAFB's Hand It On program for financial help, and at WAFB, we are struggling to come up with ways in which we can help. If it were up to us, we'd refurnish every home affected. Unfortunately, that is not possible.
So we've discussed other ways in which we can help. We've assisted with food drives to help replenish the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. That, in turn, helped individuals in our community.
WAFB's Louisiana Flood Relief concert generated much-needed funds for the American Red Cross, which also, in turn, helped individuals in our community.
St. Vincent de Paul is another organization WAFB supports. All money donated to St. Vincent de Paul stays right here in our community. They have been an important community partner in so many areas, like Uniform for Kids and their annual holiday meals. Not to mention helping staff and oversee the Bishop Ott Center, where many homeless sleep and shower each day.
WAFB's Hand It On program, in an effort to answer the request of so many of you who have reached out to us, wants to reach out to you by using this week's Hand It On money as a donation on your behalf to St. Vincent de Paul.
We caught up with St. Vincent de Paul's Michael Acaldo at the Bishop Ott Sweet Dreams Shelter for Women and Children. He was assessing the preparations going on in anticipation of Celtic Media Center's shelter closing Wednesday, October 5.
"We have 36 beds and 8 cribs here," Michael said. "We're trying to expand this facility with a new construction project that will hopefully be underway shortly."
"We've been running full at our women and children center. So has just made a bad situation even worse," Michael admitted. "With the men's facility, we were not running full before the flood, but we've been full ever since. At the men's center, we have 62 beds here on site. We also have 27 beds at our Plank Road facility and another 10 beds at our Marion House facility. So well over a hundred plus beds that are very, very full."
And right now, in addition to housing members of our community that still need shelter, St. Vincent de Paul is conducting a fundraising effort in hopes of expanding their resources to include other kinds of items homeowners need such as furnishings.
"But we have to raise the money first," Michael said. "That's the critical part of it all."
It was at that moment, I surprised Michael with our Hand It On cash gift of $300.
"It's a little drop in the bucket, but at least we're contributing to others, many people at the same time, through St. Vincent de Paul," I explained as Michael gratefully accepted our donation.
"I've never been so happy to see so many Benjamins in my life!" Michael exclaimed, displaying an ear-to-ear grin.
We continued to visit for a while. And then as I was leaving, Michael handed me a small card. On the card was a prayer he and others pray daily. It's called the Sweet Dreams Prayer. It reads:
Find out how you can help others right here in our community through your gifts to St. Vincent de Paul.