Volunteers help retired U.S. Army veteran rebuild following August flood

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - National Rebuild Day meant tremendous progress for some local homeowners who flooded last August. A group of volunteers with Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge worked on two flood-damaged homes in north Baton Rouge.

They turned Wanda Stewart's front yard into a construction zone. Never in the 23 years she has lived there did she imagine she would have to rebuild from the bottom up. She says her home took on four feet of water in August of 2016.

"It just came in overnight. No warning, never knew it was coming," said Stewart.

The former U.S. Army officer has trained for many scenarios, but this one she said, took her by storm. Stewart says rebuilding was far out of reach until Rebuilding Together extended their hands. The organization helps low income military veterans and the elderly maintain their homes so that they can live out their golden years surrounded by good neighbors.

Executive director, Chris Andrews, says since the flood, the group has helped rebuild 16 homes.

"What we've learned is there are wonderful people in Baton Rouge who love their homes and neighborhoods and simply don't have the wherewithal to help themselves," said Andrews.

A team of volunteers is changing that. A lot of them, like Dwayne Davis, build homes for a living, but they also know the emotional toll that comes with the territory. "Unfortunately my home was flooded too, so I had a little bit of experience doing it in my house," Davis said. "I'm just giving back. It's just something you give back to the community and just makes you feel good."

Stewart says being a part of the progress has really put things in perspective.

"It gives you a sense of pride and a joy to know you're coming back home. This is where I raised my children," said Stewart.

Two of her three children are currently serving in the military. Stewart says she hopes to have the house ready when they visit this summer. Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge needs volunteers and funds to continue their efforts.

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