Area community leaders launch Harvey relief effort to meet delayed recovery needs

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A new effort kicked off in Baton Rouge Tuesday to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The items will be collected at the Charles R. Kelly Community Center on Riley Dr. weekdays from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Houston area councilwoman, Amanda Edwards, has not taken a break since flood waters from the deadly storm swamped her district. She says parts of the area are still not out of the woods. "This is not a joke because this is extremely high water," she said. "They remain underwater and there's been an evacuation order since we anticipate the continued flooding."

She spoke with 9News by phone Tuesday as she drove to tour more of the damage firsthand.

"Literally, people's belongings floated out of their homes in some instances," Edwards said. "It was a very sad situation."

EBR Councilwoman Erika Green launched the effort to help those in need, but the donations will not be delivered for about three weeks. Keshala Jackson, director of the Charles R. Kelly Community Center, says the delayed response is by design and they are collecting everything except for clothes.

"There's this immediate rush to give and to do, but we are taking an approach where we push back a little bit and take time to collect more donations," said Jackson.

The group is made up of area state representatives, council members, and organizations with the goal of collecting personal care items. Collected goods will go directly to specific organizations that helped Baton Rouge a year ago.

"We have a direct connection with organizations that donated to this center during the flood," Jackson added.

Edwards calls the delayed donation smart and thanks those in Baton Rouge who know exactly what is needed when the national spotlight fades. "Once the cameras are gone and the water recedes, then people are concerned about what happens then," Edwards said. "That's the time when people are most vulnerable, when they're expected to get back to normal, but things are not normal for them."

From shampoo to socks and even baby wipes, the need is great, but councilwoman Edwards says peoples' generosity could be greater.

"It just speaks volumes to how important it is to focus on humanity rather than the things that divide us," said Edwards. "We focus on how we can build each other up."

It is something she says will continue to keep Texas Strong.

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